Monasteries of the Heart

Mary Lou OSB's blog

Journal Entry 131

On Martin Luther King, Jr Day, I went to see the movie Hidden Figures. I was feeling a bit guilty because there was a march in his honor taking place at the same time, but I made the right decision. The movie is based on the true story of three brilliant African-American women at NASA--Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson--who were instrumental in the space operation that launched John Glenn into orbit. Talk about battling and overcoming the odds.

Journal Entry 130

I read an essay by Pico Iyer on his love affair with chapels, “A Chapel Is Where You Can Hear Something Beating Below Your Heart.” He calls chapel “emergency rooms for the soul” and his essay deals with nine chapels that have sustained him in life. Iyer is a widely published travel writer who came to the insight that the best place to travel is Nowhere. That is, the best place to travel is into stillness.

Journal Entry 129

I saw the movie Collateral Beauty this week. I know it’s received horrible reviews but I liked it… a lot. (So I’m not a bona fide movie critic, sue me.) What I liked was the story’s insight that unexpected moments of extraordinary meaning and beauty can result from deep tragedy and loss—in the movie, the death of a six-year-old daughter.

Journal Entry 128

The wilderness is a recurring word in the readings of Advent. Two gospels depict John the Baptist in the wilderness and people seeking him out to hear his message. “What strikes me about this messenger—John the Baptist—is that he was nowhere near a church, and those who insisted on staying inside the church never heard the message,” write Barbara Brown Taylor in a commentary on the Advent scripture.

Journal Entry 127

A couple week ago Mary and I jumped out of our chairs in the middle of watching a movie on TV. I thought we were being bombed that’s how loud the noise was. We did what we shouldn’t do, of course, and that’s head to the front windows. There was a flash of light across the street and another loud noise. Then silence. Neighbors began coming outside. The person who saw it said that four young men were walking by the house directly across from where we live. Two doors down, on our side of the street, a young man suddenly started shooting at them. They returned fire and everyone ran.

Journal Entry 126

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Old Monk breaks into an inner dance. I love the Advent readings, especially Isaiah, all the Christmas carols, the food in grocery stores, the lit porches and trees. I even love the crowds in stores and the Salvation Army kettles. This year the dance is a bit tempered because a dear friend is dying and I am still weighted with heavy shoes because of the presidential election. But I look forward to entering the monastery chapel for Saturday Advent vigils, and praying in semi-darkness. We pray without printed psalters, chanting by memory.

Journal Entry 125

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat dropped under a dining room table.
--from “Aimless Love” by Billy Collins

Journal Entry 124

Lots of people commented on Old Monk’s journal entry that followed the national election. I’ve read all of them and they evoked some responses.

First, Old Monk wants to thank all of you who wrote a comment. It’s a small act of courage to own what you think and feel and say it to others. Because I believe we are in for hazardous four years, I, too, want to be honest about what I think a monastic stance requires in perilous times.

Journal Entry 123

When I awake each day I say a short prayer. This morning I had to force every ounce of integrity to pray it. I am heartsick over last night’s national election, in anguish for what this mean-spirited political view, now unchecked in all three branches of the government, will mean for the poor, for women, for refugees, for the sick, for all the vulnerable. I am frightened of what military force we will unleash around the world without an ounce of concern for the unarmed civilians in its wake.

Journal Entry 122

“Memory… is the diary that we all carry with us.”—Oscar Wilde.


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