Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Lord, Grant Me the Serenity..."

One of the most serene places I've ever visited was Weston Priory, a community of Benedictine monks, in Vermont in the 1980s. A poem about that experience follows.

Photo credit:


Plainsong at Vespers
sung by a handful of Episcopalian sisters
in a little convent chapel in New Jersey,
whisked me back a few decades
to a summer weekend
at Weston Priory in Vermont,
to celebrate the Feast of St. Benedict;
whisked me back to my Catholic Charismatic days,
when I was willing to travel anywhere
to participate in vibrant congregational worship.

At the priory
I witnessed what many never see,
monks dancing in a circle,
their slow, graceful sweeps
billowing white hooded frocks
in the gentle breeze.
They sang fresh, mellow songs
that were wending their way
into contemporary liturgies.

The monks invited a few of us
to join their sunrise worship.
We quietly gathered in a rude garret
with a wide many-paned window
that offered pre-dawn darkness.
Sitting upon pillows strewn on the floor,
we melded with the stillness.
One by one the Benedictines entered
with their prayer books
and sat meditatively.
After a time
they softly read Scripture,
prayed, and chanted mellifluous praise.

Suddenly, a brown field mouse
scampered among us,
flitting betwixt and between.
No one stirred at all.

Beyond the panes
blackness gave way
to the rising sun;
streams of warm glow
dissolved the morning mist
above a placid pond.
Splashes of magenta and lavender
petunias drenched in dew
emerged at water's edge.

Maude Carolan

No comments:

Post a Comment