For my going away party, my boyfriend, who came to whisk me back to Portland with him, made strawberry, hibiscus, and cucumber margaritas for the Mothers (as a bartender it was quite a novel experience for him to serve tequila to nuns, and yes, they love tequila). I whipped up some pickled beet bruschetta from our garden bounty and we said our sad goodbyes. The nuns surprised me with my very own cheese press so I can continue my cheese-making wherever I set up home, which brought me to can’t-quite-fight-them-away, heart-wrenching tears.
In the card they wrote me, Mother Prioress said how great of a pleasure it was to collaborate with me in so many ways. This was the most fulfilling compliment to receive - to know that as their intern I wasn’t viewed as a farm-hand grunt laborer, but a contributor and partner to the work and legacy they maintain. All of the goals unreached and expectations unmet came crashing down as irrelevant with the realization that I was able to provide something tangible and meaningful to their Monastic community. It is essential to seek out opportunities and ways to nourish one’s own personal goals and desires, but I believe the greatest reward is commonly found in recognizing your impact on others or wherever else your energy is directed.
My prayer for myself as I continue on to the next season of life is that I never lose sight of the importance of this calling - to surrender myself to this world as a vessel for positivity, for productivity. And to continue along, uninhibitedly, as a seeker and lover of truth, in whatever many shapes it takes form.
When Mother Prioress said goodbye, she said, “I’ll see you everywhere.” Just as my presence was absorbed into their hearts and home, I’ll never forget the Mothers and what they taught me. Their generosity, light-heartedness, faith, and prayerful spirits will remain with me always.
by David Wagoner, from Collected Poems 1956-1976
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. you must let it find you.