Oldering Prayer

I hear the swishing sound of rolling walkers moving towards me. I know that the bells calling us to worship will begin to ring soon, and it will be time to pray with the sisters of Our Lady of Grace Monastery.

My day begins before the sun rises. The Oblates of our Lady of Grace have early breakfast before joining the sisters for Morning Praise.

The old coffee maker has been replaced by a newer version that now offers three choices–mild, regular, and bold, with parallel decaffeinated options. It is a better beginning to the day.

After breakfast,

we pray in community,

we do lectio divina on a portion of the Rule of St. Benedict,

we have time for quiet,

we pray again,

we eat lunch,

we give back to the Monastery with an act of service (for me, cleaning the walls of the dining room),

we do lectio on another chapter of the Rule,

we pray again,

we eat again.

Tonight after supper, we’ll play games with the sisters and pray one last time in community.

Then sleep.

In the over fifteen years I have come to Our Lady of Grace, most often twice a year, more sisters have died than have professed Monastic orders. The average age of the sisters is 72. The priest who serves the Monastery is nearly bent in half, and celebrates Eucharist sitting in a chair. As are those who worship in our churches, we are all oldering.

In the Monastery, all serve. At Noonday, the average age of the sisters leading worship must near 90.

Yesterday, at Noonday, I heard a quiet voice during the lengthening silence between the chanting of the Psalms, She’s asleep. So while the celebrant dozed, another sister took her place and began the next section of prayer.

Another sister who I look fondly upon, perhaps because she reminds me of my mother with her sweet face, white hair, and blue top, was prepared for her part in the liturgy of reading the lesson. She had placed a special lamp on the the lectern before worship began.

At the appointed time, she carefully stepped to the lectern using her walker, carefully repositioned herself to read, carefully placed a clipboard with a large print version of the day’s text, carefully turned on the light, and with a clear voice, read scripture.

After she finished the lesson from Daniel, she slowly turned off the light, slowly folded it up, and slowly placed it under the lectern. Slowly she placed the clipboard on her walker, slowly turned, slowly returned to her seat, and slowly lowered herself into her chair.

Care full. Slow. It was all prayer.

It is all prayer.