Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Turning Stone

     My new local monastery is called the Abbaye Sainte-Marie de la Pierre qui Vire. The "Pierre" in the name has nothing to do with St. Peter, it's a literal stone at the site of the monastery. It's a boulder balanced on top of another boulder in such a way that it can be turned around by hand ("pierre qui vire" means "turning stone"). That's the old story, anyway. Such instability made the first monks there so uncomfortable that the turning stone was cemented to the boulder beneath, and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary fixed firmly on top. They kept the name, though, even when the stone no longer turned. 

    There is something in common with St. Peter after all. Jesus gave him the name, which means "rock," as related in Matthew's gospel: 

Saturday, September 2, 2023


     Now that I am living in this new place, in relationship with this new monastery, I am beginning to see myself and my own solitary monastic vocation in a new light. I am in a country that values hermits. It is a striking change from my native U.S., where "loners" are generally viewed with suspicion, as sick, maladjusted, and probably dangerous misfits. Here, I am welcomed, appreciated. My imposter syndrome is fading away. The old ladies in the village are pleased to have me here. And the monks, whose community life I admire so deeply, seem to feel the same about me and my solitary life. 

    I think I could not live in community as they do, as much as I admire the way they care for and support each other. I'm very tempted by the green, green grass on that side of the fence (or rather, the cloister wall)! But I am a wild-sister, I bloom in a hidden hollow, I think the careful tending in a garden would suffocate me. I need quiet, and lots of it. I need privacy, to live unmasked, free to talk to myself out loud, sing and dance if I feel like it, go braless, cuss out my computer. I think the constant presence of others sharing my home space would wear me out very quickly.