Winter Retreat (Day 2)

Saving Fragments

On the monastery refrigerator, a magnet with a message:
“Falling down is part of life. Getting up is living.”

As always, a book is being read during meals here. I was heartened and happified (my newly invented word for the day) last evening at supper when the current reading turns out to be of the new book by Brother Eldridge Pendleton of this community. Brother Eldridge is the first of the SSJE community I met, many years ago now, through our common friend Marybeth. His wisdom and kindness have sustained me more than once, and invited me gently to new insight, over the years, Eldridge has been for some time too frail to live at the Monastery, but he continues to carry the best of the spirit of this community with him always. The book is so new that I cannot find it listed, but I will continue to look. It is, at least in part, the story of the coming of SSJE to the Boston area and is filled with fascinating detail on past days and ways.

Outside my room, beyond the #4 and the stencil “Saint Clement” there sits on the windowsill a little statue of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. As I came up the stair with my bag yesterday afternoon my attention was drawn to it immediately. It is the exact replica, as best my memory can recall, of a likeness of Mary that lived in our house in Lynn all the years we were growing up together. I cannot recall where it is or isn’t now. But its twin was waiting for me here.

But here is where it gets weird. Dreamland weird. Sleeping last night I had a dream. I do not know whether I opened the door into the corridor to go where the little statue is, or whether somehow it came to me (remember, this is a dream!). Either way, suddenly it was there before me, kind of looking at me and me at it. I said, “Do you want to pray?” The statue nodded. I blessed myself with the sign of the cross and the statue moved and did the same. I prayed the Hail Mary, inspired by the words of Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth at the Annunciation. The statue lowered her head as I did so. Then I blessed myself again, as did she, and that was that. Lke I said, weird. Or at the least, a very unusual dream in my experience.

This is true especially as I am here precisely to do that . . . pray. Just to be and to pray. More on that later.

Last evening at Eucharist we sang hymn 693 in the 1982 Hymnal, “Just As I Am,” Do you know it? The words and music are powerful. In part:

“Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidd’st me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come,

“Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt; fightings and fears withinm without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”