A young friend of the monastery, Daniel Crocker, posted the following on Facebook the other day, after visiting us for his weekly Latin lesson, followed by Vespers:
Where would we be without our grandmothers? Where would we be without these women who gave life to the mothers and fathers who gave life to us? And where would we be without their relationships with us: this motherly intimacy that extended into our childhood and young adulthood?
As I turned from the serpentine road onto the long dirt drive that leads up to the monastery, I remembered that my Step-Grandma brought me to this place many years ago. I realized that had she not done so, I might never have known of its existence. This little nook in the valley, set against the rolling hills of Windsor, glistened under the sun. The pond to my left shimmered. As I approached the place where I usually park, I guessed that Kathleen Houck, my step-grandmother and godmother, did not know what a blessing Transfiguration Monastery and three Benedictine nuns would become for me nearly twenty years since my first visit here with her.
I owe to “Him who brings all things together for the good” my everything! What a perfect situation for me: studying Latin has delighted my linguistic brain by increasing my knowledge of language in general; it has helped my devotion so that I may understand better the Latin scripture verses, antiphons, prayers and anthems that I encounter in worship. I have come to love Sister Sheila (my Latin teacher), Sister Donald, and Sister Miriam. I very much look forward to praying with them every week, after a busy work day at the school.
As the Paschal candle flickered, as we bowed at the name of the Trinity, as our voices ascended and descended antiphonal mountains, the sense of joy that had been swelling in me all day surged against my heart, like a flood against a dam at the breaking point! We began the intercessions. I named Erna, a grandmother with cancer: as the breath slipped out past my lips into the center of the chapel, I thought of Erna who will be slipping past suffering, past years of life, into the eternal days of her journey. I pleaded that her pain would be met with comfort. I prayed that her tears would be met with peace.
During the Magnificat, I glanced at the giant, colorful icon of the Madonna seated on a throne, with her holy Child and Savior in her lap. Yes, I know what mothers mean. Yes, I know what grandmothers mean. They are full of blessings. They are poured out richly upon us. They are life.
Once prayers had ended and greetings and blessings were exchanged, I was out the door and headed away from the main building of the Monastery. At the foot of the steps that make a crescent around the chapel side of the building, I stopped and closed my eyes. The breeze blew across my face, and in the silence of my heart, my Step-Grandma and I greeted each other: “It truly has been a long time since we have seen each other face to face, I agree. It is so nice that you come to me and make yourself known to me here. I miss you.”
Where would we be without our grandmothers, without these blessed ladies who passed on to us their flame of love for life? In the light from this flame, I see all the blessings and graces I receive. I see that all good things are reflections of Your inestimable glory. I see all as signs that You walk with me. My heart burns greatly in desire to be ever closer to You. I yearn to be received by You, who hold in Your hands our treasured grandmothers. Receive me! For in your sight, today joy slays me and for it I die a thousand deaths.