Friday, November 23, 2012

A Place of Delight and Rest

All are Welcome in 
this Place

Click on the image above to hear the song.

Let us build a house where love can dwell
And all can safely live.
A place where saints and children tell
How hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
Rock of faith and vault of grace;
Here's the love of Christ shall end divisions:
     Ref: All are welcome, all are welcome, 
all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where prophets speak,
And words are strong and true,
Where all God's children dare to seek
To dream God's reign anew.
Here the cross shall stand as witness
And as symbol of God's grace;
Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:
     Ref: All are welcome, all are welcome, 
all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where love is found
In water, wine and wheat:
A banquet hall on holy ground,
Were peace and justice meet.
Here the love of God, through Jesus,
Is revealed in time and space;
As we share in Christ the feast that frees us.
       Ref: All are welcome, all are welcome, 
all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where hands will reach 
Beyond the wood and stone
To heal and strengthen, serve and teach.
And live the word they've known.
Here the outcast and the stranger
Ber the image of God's face;
Let us bring an end to fear and danger:
     Ref: All are welcome, all are welcome, 
all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where all are named,
"I baptize you in the name of . . . "
Their songs and visions heard
And loved and treasured, taught and claimed
As words within the the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter,
Prayers of faith and songs of grace.
Let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:

     Ref: All are welcome, all are welcome, 
all are welcome in this place.
Text: Marty Haugen, ©1950

In my now 5 months of living with the Sisters of Visitation Monastery in Minneapolis, the one thing that has impressed me more than anything else is the fact that in this place truly all are welcome. All kinds of people come here: priests, professionals, and homeless people. Families who have comfortable lives. Families who live in great deprivation. All are treated, not only with respect, but as incarnations of Jesus. It is humbling to live in such a way. I remember hearing that "God is no respecter of persons," when I was a child, and being told that that meant God loves everybody the same. And I would have thought myself an inclusive and accepting person until I came here. I know better now. I have made distinctions between persons without even realizing it. And I have been afraid of people who were very different from me. Being here is changing me. I have a long way to go to get to the place where I would like to be. But I realize again that I want to be like the Visitation Sisters of N. Minneapolis. I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't come here for their "monastic immersion experience."

- - 

Last Saturday there was a baptism at the monastery - a relative of one of the Sisters.

Fr. Michael anointing the baby.

A neighbor coming in to see and greet the baby and parents.
And while the reception was going on, one of the neighbors dropped by and was introduced. The Sisters speak of these occasions as "bridging." I loved seeing the parallels in these two images - of the priest bending over the baby to anoint her - and the neighbor bending in almost identical posture to gesture to the baby as parents were opening gifts.

Thanksgiving week has been quite a busy time! Every day has had so much going on! Turkey Tuesday, for instance, when friends from out at Mendota Heights at the Visitation Academy there arrived with huge cardboard boxes the size of laundry baskets, filled with food - enough for 150 families! And each box of food came with a turkey and a pan to bake it in. A team of neighbors had made up maps showing where the 150 families lived: a group of Vis girls and a couple of the neighbors would pile into a car with all the fixings for 3 or 4 Thanksgiving dinners and head out to deliver them. A prayer card was placed in each basket - so when the girls and their helpers arrived, they were ready for a visit with the family and they all shared a prayer together. In between assignments, they'd come into the house for hot apple cider and a couple of cookies, pick up the next set of addresses and head out again! It was something to see!

This is what it looked like
when they were more than
half done!
Our VIP Anna was one of the
workers on Turkey Tuesday.

The chapel set up for Morning Prayer the
day of Renewal of Vows. That's the
Constitution containing their "rule" at the
base of the cruciform Christ.

Getting set up for Thanksgiving
morning mass.
Thanksgiving morning there was Morning Prayer, followed by another mass - this time relatives of some of the Sisters and Anna's family joined us - and another brunch to follow. And then an open house at Girard for another Sister's family. And then Evening Prayer followed by Thanksgiving Dinner at 5 PM - we had 14 places set.

Lingering over dessert.

Whew! These Sisters have stamina - and hospitality is at the heart of their life.

St. Jane de Chantal wrote on the wall of the first Visitation Monastery, 
this is a place of delight and rest . .

and it's true! 
It's a place of delight and rest for the heart, 
no matter how hard you work at it.

All are welcome . . . in this place!

Be sure to read the Visitation Monastery blog!