My new job as a housekeeper at a local Catholic retreat center started three weeks ago! I love that I have so much to keep me on my feet and far from boredom, but I must admit that am worn out. In fact, I did admit it to the center's director at the end of the first week. During our conversation, I suddenly had the impression that despite feeling quite sleepy at that moment, I was waking up from a very long sleep. She asked simply, “Was that sleep bad?”
“No, I needed it.”
I wrote in my last post about how this first year of establishing the monastery in my heart has been one of trial and error and experimentation. Spiritually, I suspect, it has largely been a year of catching up on sleep. At Mass, the day after my conversation with the director about waking up, I remembered that Adam went to sleep before the rib that would become Eve was taken from his side. I remembered in the same way that the Church came from the pierced side of Christ asleep in death on the Cross. I also thought of my seedlings. I had almost given up on the peppers, when they finally emerged. As I pulled the excess sprouts, I discovered that they sprouted later than the other seeds because they had been putting down sturdy roots.
If I have been sleeping this last year, it was that kind of sleep. I needed the semi-enclosure of shelter in place and the wide-open days of unemployment. I look at this last year of "retirement" as a gift not because it has given me time to ease gently back into the business of life but because it has spared me being thrown into a current which might have swept me away before I was ready to swim.
This napping year has provided time and space for the experimentation to discover who I am after leaving the monastery enclosure, to grow in the knowledge of God's unconditional love for me and to discern the direction God is calling me to proceed on our adventure. In short, like the peppers, I have been growing sturdy roots so that now I am ready to sprout and start growing.
The Lord must agree, because he provided a job opportunity for me on Easter Monday, which was the exact anniversary of my leaving the monastery. I don't think a paid position can get any closer to religious life than my new housekeeping job! At least, it reminds me of much of what I liked best about my two ventures into the cloister (the active sisters have a cloister too, but they can go out of it more freely). There is a chapel so I can pop in to say hello to Jesus in addition to praying the Divine Office before the Blessed Sacrament on my breaks and attending Mass. The work is conducive to contemplation. This is balanced with a good amount of interaction with others (without worrying about breaking silence! Although many of the retreats are silent, so it is still good to be aware). Generally, the atmosphere is prayerful with a strong sense of community.
This is a job that is also service to the Lord, but He has been making it clear to me that while I need to put my whole self into it while there, it is not my only focus. My family, our own house, my boyfriend, this website, my guinea piggies, my hobbies, etc need attention and energy too for love of God as well as ensuring that I do not burn out due to lack of balance. So rather than getting home and letting myself immediately turn to mush, I have been pushing a little bit each evening to go out, to do some chores, to write this blog, etc. I have frequently felt sleepy these last few weeks, but then again minimal sleep is a very common monastic discipline. Happily, I get to sleep all the way until 5:30, sometimes even as late as 7am.
As I once again have a bit of income, it seems that the time has come to start writing about religious poverty (and I have lots of ideas on this topic, many of which tie in to some of the "experiments" that did not make it into the last post.)
Thank you for reading, God bless!