The novitiate year is a focused time of reflection, learning, study, prayer and work. This part of the formation process is structured to enable the novice to discern whether or not God is calling her to monastic life – here, in this monastery, at this time. Removed for this year from my usual daily routine of working a job out in the world, I am able to carve out the time to look deeply – inside, as well as around me. Part of my new “routine” includes sitting quietly for several hours each morning in front of the large windows upstairs in the residence hall. This picture and the poem that follows  came out of that time:

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Because it’s August in eastern

Kentucky, my view from second

story windows appears like one

vast expanse of green. Seemingly

unbroken lines of perfect trees

process down the ridges to the

invisible road far below.

Looking more closely, however,

I note the lone, dead, skeletal

branch beckoning courageously

heavenward from an otherwise

healthy tree.  A hickory, I think,

but that doesn’t matter. What does,

is that by some hidden strength the

tree itself has not merely escaped

death but flourished. In idle

curiosity, I gaze and

wonder what happened. Maybe a

violent storm? An attack of blight?

Ravaging by insects? Perhaps –

when this tree was younger, in the

long ago competition for

light and air down close to the ground,

this branch was overcome by a

stronger tree growing beside it?

But why, why do I spend so much

time on what doesn’t matter? For

I know that anything that lives

long enough will face some storm,

some unexpected brokenness. What

matters is that still, still, the core

slowly recovers and golden

shafts of morning sun stream every

day across a brilliant blue sky.

We are scarred.


But we are healed.

4 thoughts on “Resilience

  1. As a child I grew up there until 8yrs old. On that very 1st slab of concrete as you pull up the drive. This is beautiful. This is me.My life changed that day when our home burned. So did my family.I struggled but now have a beautiful life.

  2. Thank you. This has given me so much peace. My body, my mind, my spirit…thank you.

  3. Tina,
    What a lovely note (I didn’t see it until now!) Thank you, and blessings to you and Meg. How wonderful to see you both last month.

  4. Beautiful, Diantha. Funny – I selected the posting labeled “resilience,” because this is a passion of mine. Little did I know it was written by you! So happy for you to have this time, to be held there in those beautiful yet fierce mountains, to be supported by the faithful of the monastery as you contemplate what is next.
    When I read your poem, I thought how easily we can become like that branch – appearing to be dead among the living. It’s so easy to be inactive, to withhold the energy necessary to be engaged in life, to be part of life, to promote life, even. Easier it often is to let life quietly (and sometimes not quite so) pass by, just watching. Fortunate are we who are blessed with circumstances that align perfectly with some minuscule seed of strength, of will, that we are compelled to remove ourselves from the sidelines of life and reach for the sunlight, to grow, to shed our dead and broken branches and reach for the sky!
    I pray you discover renewed peace and joy in the new direction your path takes you.

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