Visio Divina of Life

As a Benedictine Live-In Experience volunteer, I have many departments I serve in, including at Saint Scholastica Convent, the sisters’ retirement center, just down the road in St. Cloud. One of the sisters I visit in the memory care unit has a windowsill full of “treasures.” I know they are treasures because when the sister invites me into her room for our weekly visit, they are the first (and often only) thing I am introduced to. Sister has what appears to be a Candelabra Cactus plant. She is extremely fond and proud of this plant. She introduces it to me first of all the things on her windowsill. One time she introduced me to it three times in a span of 10 minutes. In an effort to not keep repeating myself again and again with the same comments and questions about the plant, I challenged myself to be creative each time.

One round I commented on the leaves, another the height, another the spines. As I became more and more desperate for new things to say, I started to notice more—the shininess, the way the plant was triangular at the base but then flattened out as it went up, how the leaves at the top were tiny compared to the ones at the bottom, how one part that looked like a leaf was actually another stem forming.

As I was introduced again and again to this little plant, I noticed more and more. Some things stood out on some days—like how green it was—that I hardly noticed other days. It started to dawn on me that this was a form of visio divina—sacred seeing, or praying with an image.

While I can hardly say that my ongoing “visits” with this plant was a knock-your-socks-off powerful experience of the divine, it did bring me to awareness of all the opportunities to see the holiness of the “mundane.” Yes, it is just a plant on the windowsill, but its caretaker loves it, it’s unique and wonderfully made, with so many characteristics that are missed at first glance. How often we pass by something barely registering it, because, like Martha in chapter 10 of Luke’s Gospel, we “are worried and distracted by many things.” Next time we find ourselves with a spare moment, may we let the Spirit invite us to ponder whatever is before us, not just our physical eyes, but also with “the eyes of our heart” (Ephesians 1:18).

If you are interested in learning more about the Benedictine Live-In Experience, visit our website or contact Sister Mary Catherine Holicky, coordinator, at or (320) 363-7028.

Anna Taylor

Anna was a Benedictine Live-In volunteer from July through October 2022.

Photo: A blooming windowsill at Saint Scholastica Convent