February 15 - "In the bleak midwinter..."
“…the mountains were beautiful, and a lot was happening despite the cold!”
That’s not how the carol actually goes, but it is an accurate description of all that’s happened since Christmas season ended on the Baptism of Our Lord! First, a memory from Christmas that never made it online: during the holiday, our refectory was graced by several nuns of a rather…diminutive…size, beautifully handpainted by a sisters’ mum. We love them, and they were wonderful company, very reminiscent of certain “full-size” nuns in our community!
For the Festival of St. Thomas Aquinas in Vancouver, Sr. Isabelle wrote a special arrangement of Psalm 37, sung by three of our novitiate and joyfully sung again for the feast of our brother a few days later.
R. The mouths of the just murmur wisdom.
Trust in the Lord and do good,
so you will dwell in the land and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will act.
He will make your vindication shine like the light,
the justice of your cause like the noonday.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom
and their tongues speak justice.
The law of their God is in their hearts,
their steps do not slip.
Just a few days later, we welcomed four sisters and a friar for the annual meeting of the Council of the North American Association of Dominican Monasteries. Unlike our diminutive visitors of the previous month, these nuns were full-size and not at all wooden! Still beautiful, however, and also hiding a lot of unexpected talents and hobbies. Due to an impending storm, two Council members had to leave early (unfortunately, before anyone thought to take a photograph of the whole group!). However, this resulted in a meeting-free afternoon, and the exploration of one Council sister’s hidden talent…cheesemaking! Four litres of milk, a quick chemistry lesson and a lot of laughs later, we were the proud possessors of two rounds of delicious mozzarella—and some extra supplies to continue experimenting.
Finally, the seed order catalogue has been lurking in our community room for the past few weeks, with little scraps of paper and notes beside it marking sisters’ planting ideas. Leafing through kale, and baby’s breath, and brussels sprouts, spring seems really close. That means, of course, that it continues to snow. However, with a bit of sun and our blessed warm coats, a winter walk makes it perhaps okay that planting is at least two months off. “Ice and snow, bless the Lord,” indeed!
Jokes aside, however, we are praying in a particular way for all those affected by this “bleak midwinter” who do not have adequate food, clothing and shelter, or people around them with warm and open hearts, during this sometimes-difficult time of year. To adapt a phrase from Bl Mother Teresa of Kolkata, we pray: