As a Benedictine Live-In Experience volunteer, I serve in many departments and have had a lot of wonderful experiences with different sisters and staff at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. It’s meaningful to know that I am helping to keep their home clean with the environmental services crew, make their history more accessible in the Archives by transcribing older documents, and stewarding Mother Earth’s resources by composting vegetable waste in the kitchen. One experience that stands out to me, though, is when I am volunteering at Saint Scholastica Convent (the sisters’ retirement center in St. Cloud).
At Saint Scholastica, I serve in the memory care unit, visiting with sisters by going on walks, playing games, making cards, etc. Most of the sisters cannot even remember my name (one week I was called Mary), nor get any details straight about my life, so I patiently give them this information again and again when they ask. However, on a certain level, perhaps a deeper level, I know that they do in fact know me.
It is the sweetest thing to see some of their faces light up when they see me—even though they can’t remember my name and frequently think I am still in high school or college, they nevertheless know somewhere in their being that I am Good. I correspond to happy memories in their life. It is in its own way a blessing to have someone behold you that way, behold you as Good. It’s a blessing given without words, without them even realizing, which makes it all the more beautiful and genuine.
God’s Original Blessing was to look at the newly formed Creation and see that “it was Good.” These sisters are God’s hands and feet when they do the same for me. We should be inspired by their example and remind each other of our original Goodness, not necessarily verbally, but also knowing it in our own being and reflecting that to others in a smile or gesture of love. In a world filled with so much stress and worry, wouldn’t that be Good?
Anna was a Benedictine Live-In volunteer from July through October 2022.
Photo: Sisters blessing employees at Saint Scholastica Convent, taken by Sister Marina Schlangen