I went to Lauds on Monday after a day vacation. It’s funny how 7:45 to me now means sleeping in. After mass at 8, Mother Mary Grace had me go up with her to take back some linoleum she had found in the “free stuff” shed that wouldn’t fit in her house. “I keep hearing about the free stuff shed,” I told her. “Where is it anyway?” Her eyes opened wide. “You’ve been here for three weeks and you haven’t gone to the free stuff shed yet?” “I know…and I’ve been hearing about it since I got here.” “Well, that’s where we’re going right now,” she responded. We drove the heavy, rolled linoleum and placed it outside the open wooden shed next to the Shaw Island community center. “Sometimes, you can find really great things here,” Mary Grace explained. “See, now this is cute,” she continued, pulling out a red wrap dress from the hangers. I couldn’t help but think of my brother and his Goodwill runs, always scouring for treasures that many overlook or simply ignore.
Afterwards, Sue, Mary Anne, Martha and I worked with Mother Dilecta in the vegetable garden. That many pairs of hands cleared out most of the weeds, giving the garden a much needed makeover in under two hours. Aimee, a nanny from Seattle who did the land program with the monastery years ago, came with the two children she takes care of and their extra friend. We had lunch after they had unpacked and gotten ready for their five day stay. I then watered the plants in the pond again, fed the fish and began work on reorganizing a brick stack that had fallen over behind the pond shed. Each spider and centipede and slug I encountered made me thankful for my thick leather gloves. The spiders also made me think of Kathleen and how she might have handled the situation.
I went for another long run after—the loop—a four mile circle that goes up to the library, down to the community center and back up to the entrance of the monastery. (Anna, if you’re reading this, you’d call this a “jog” or small run, probably finishing in 10 minutes.) I made Vespers at 5 after a quick shower. We had plans that evening: a concert. One I would be partly giving. Humorous, considering my ten weeks of piano experience. I was paired with Sue, who has been playing the saxophone for over thirty years. She truly made it a concert experience.
Sue and I had started a ritual after the fateful day we found out about each other’s love for Taize music: playing and singing the small chants in St. Joseph’s (our guest house) at night after dinner. We taught different groups of people: Martha and MaryAnne, Paula and her children, their grandmother, Anne. Now we were teaching Mother Felicitas, sitting in her small music room, MaryAnne, Martha, Sue, Mother and I. We had just finished our respective “concert” pieces when Mother said, “Well are we going to do Taize now?” I couldn’t help but gape while one of my dreams materialized before my very eyes. Then I got out my camera. And so we sat, a 22 year old, a 45 year old, two 76 year olds, an almost 80 year old—professors, teachers, recent grads, a nun—from Wisconsin, San Diego, Ohio, Texas. Here we were, singing Taize music within the monastic wall guests normally cannot trespass. “How about another one?” Mother said. “Let’s do one more,” she continued after that. And when we had finished, we practiced our Gregorian round… but then it was really time to get some rest, Mother explained. She was out with guests after 8:30—not a common occurrence here.
I loved that she didn’t want the night to end. I loved that she closed her eyes as Sue played Ave Maria on the sax. I love that she clapped when I finished my piano “pieces,” despite my faltering fingers. I love that her eyes lit up and her face glowed as she sang the Taize songs and changed pitch accordingly. I love that we all participated, that music brought us together, that I could watch beauty unfold…and be part of the process.
I love it here.