Waiting for What is Yet to be Born
Advent has always been my favorite liturgical season. It is a season of hope and anticipation, a season of waiting for the Christ to be born in each of us. The long, dark, silent nights provide access to a previously hidden array of stars in the early morning sky. These stars remind us that there is something more, something deeper that is ready to be birthed, if we can stop, be still, and wait.
A few years ago, on an Advent retreat, the facilitator asked us to journal on the question “What are you waiting for?” Beyond the obvious answers of waiting for Christmas or waiting for what the new year might bring, we were asked to go deeper to discern what are we really waiting for? After some prayer and reflection, I journaled on the desire for a deeper connection to my True Self, the Christ-child within, and the awareness to recognize how the familiar conditioned patterns of my ego-self often blocked the radiance of that inner Light of Christ. After all these years, I’m still working and waiting for that awareness to grow with each passing Advent season.
Like many things in this historic year of 2020, the waiting this Advent is even more profound than other years. As a world, we are waiting for a vaccine, waiting for the pandemic to end, waiting for life to return to “normal.” In our country, this year has also widened the already deep divisions among us, and further revealed radically disparate world views and scars of racial injustices still waiting to be healed.
What is the Benedictine Center Waiting For?
At the Benedictine Center, we have not been spared by this year’s traumatic events. In March, the pandemic led us to initially close the doors and cancel in-person programming, followed quickly by the departure of Sam Rahberg after 15 years of service and 10 years as Director and guiding light of the Benedictine Center ministry. Like other retreat centers, we made the switch to virtual programming in the summer and fall. But as the pandemic dragged on and the financial impacts deepened existing organizational challenges, we had to make the painful decision to pause programming starting in January and say goodbye to Associate Director Kiely Todd Roska as well.
So, as we take this pause, we ask ourselves again “what are we at the Benedictine Center waiting for?” Mostly, we are waiting for the Spirit to reveal what is truly ours do to in this unusual time and this liminal space. We are waiting to see what is emerging to rise from the ashes of this difficult year. And while we are waiting, we are taking the opportunity to simplify and focus on the original founding purpose of the Benedictine Center–Spiritual Direction.
Looking Ahead While We Wait
In 2021, Benedictine Center spiritual directors will continue to virtually companion those seeking guidance on the path. Tod Twist will be on staff to provide administrative support for the spiritual directors, as well as align new guests with our existing directors. Also, we will continue to maintain our website and publish a monthly eNewsletter, both of which will have more of a spiritual direction focus during the pandemic. Each month in 2021, we will offer a profile of one of our spiritual directors and provide links to resources available elsewhere to continue to spiritually nourish long-time guests of the Benedictine Center. Finally, the spiritual directors would like to host another “Introduction to Spiritual Direction” online session in January.
In addition to support for spiritual direction, we are looking to partner with local parishes willing to provide online offerings, such as a monthly Lectio Divina series. Also, with help from Kathy Fleming and resources from St. Paul’s Monastery, we hope to offer a virtual Art & Spirituality exhibit, “Seeing God 2021”. Stay tuned for more details.
Some of you have asked whether the Benedictine Center will continue to need donations during this programming pause. The answer is YES, we would love to receive your contributions to help support the staff expense of keeping these functions going. Your gifts, along with donations of time from our volunteers, can also help put us in a position to support retreat guests when the monastery is able to open to the public again.
So, once again this season of Advent, we wait with hope for a new Light to be born, both within us, and within the work of the Benedictine Center. Thank you so much for your generosity and ongoing support of the Benedictine Center mission!
Learn more about core Benedictine values.