Friday, July 28, 2006

Familien Fest ... complete with footnotes!

July Community Days are something special. True, we're not in the days anymore where people get sent out "on mission" to teach and then don't show up again until the school year is over .... but even still, there's something different about this set of meetings. It always seems like an even bigger deal than the other times we meet throughout the year, that folks who often can't make it home for the other meetings1 manage to make it home for these days.

These days kind of kick off our monastic year. There's all this hustle & bustle on Tuesday afternoon when the new table assignments get posted2 -- everyone looks to see who they'll be with this year. Plus there's just more people, as the various mission folk3 begin coming in.

Wednesday was our more business-y kind of day; Thursday we had an excellent (and rather entertaining!) communication workshop. Throughout this time it's great to have a "full house" in church. Even more cool, though, is the time with everyone home .... especially on Friday.

Friday starts off with a chance for people to share or ask whatever they want, which often turns into a dreaming session of "What if we ______?" More people get up with other ideas that play off it, and we all leave the morning hugely energized about where we might be going, what we might be heading towards.

Then it's time for lunch and then ..... Familien Fest. A day to celebrate family and have fun. One year we were on a "cruise ship" with various activities and ports of call; last year it had this whole farm theme.

And this year? The Kentucky Derby Dome Cup.

St. Gertrude Hall was converted into "Gertrude Downs". Folks were all decked out in their Derby best, and we served various iced teas (mint, peach, etc.) and lemonade as we entered. Living groups had designated jockeys for their very-creatively-named horse, and so we had our own "Run For Heaven's Sake"4 .... all the races were appropriately titled for monastic horse racing but I can't for the life of me remember any of them! We even had our own bugler5 for the post call. The races themselves were rather entertaining, but I'm sure there will be pictures online shortly, so I'll let them speak for themselves. I will say that my race was a tight one, but I ended up losing by a nose6. We had a break for ice cream, with the MC having an open mike for jokes and/or stories; there was also the obligatory Derby Hat7 parade, where everyone showed off their creations (again, I'm sure photos of that will get posted).

Dinner was burgers and dogs, baked beans and potato salad, Derby pie8 and peach cobbler. Then we finished off the night with a "Drive-in Movie"9 with Dreamer, a cute feel-good horse movie. That, I think, in some respects, was the crowning moment of the day. I'm guessing there were maybe 100 of us in there, and it was just an awesome feel, to have so many of us just watching a movie together, laughing at the occasional comments that someone in the back might make10. Plus, there was the obligatory burst of applause and cheering when the race was won11.

But it was awesome. A real reinforcement of community, family, and our relationships here in the monastery.

Then, tomorrow morning, we have Missioning. These days it's more symbolic than it was in the past --- most of us already know where we're living and where we'll be working. But it still is a special time to each receive our assignment for the year from our prioress as she sends us out for the year.12 We go from all this major togetherness, and then everyone goes their separate ways. It's good, though, because it sends us off with a real sense of the bigger picture, of who we are and what we're about .... and that we're not in it alone.

Like I said earlier today, it's not about the money. And we're definitely not dying out.

Need I mention ..... I'm lovin' community life right now!

___________________
1We have community meetings I think maybe four or five weekends a year, plus various whole-community formation days and other things.
2We have what we call "Stable Tables" where we're assigned to the same table for community meetings throughout the year; this allows us get to know different sisters better while at the same time providing some consistency for table discussions throughout the year.
3Benedictines traditionally live at the monastery. However, since our Middle-of-Nowheresville location is not conducive to gainful employment for 180+ sisters, we have a number of people who are living "on mission" --- which for us is generally places within an hour or so of the monastery, which makes it easier for people to come back for various committee meetings, community events, formation days, funerals, etc. Evansville & Louisville are the big places, but we do have a few scattered elsewhere (Rome, Peru, Illinois, Indianapolis, etc.).
4
For Heaven's Sake is the name of our monastery gift shop.
5Technically, it was a trumpeter, but who's really checking anyway?
6It's not my fault, though. I had no control over her rolling a 2 instead of a 3 for that last step of the race! (That's how we "raced" --- the dice would roll, and if your number came up, you got to move)
7Apparently hats are the big thing for Derby? Am I showing off my non-Kentucky-ish-ness yet?
8And Derby Pie is apparently another big thing. I know, it's rather shameful, especially considering the fact that I actually was living in Louisville at the time of the Derby this year. Lorem, do we have some work to do next year?
9Again, not technically .... more like a screen hung on the wall of The-Space-Formerly-Known-As-Gertrude-Downs-But-Now-Converted-Into-A-Movie-Theater-Complete-With-Powerpoint-Projector-And-DVD-Player. But it just shows we're adaptable, right?
10For example .... I was in the third row. Then, during the final horse race, I noticed that the sister in front of me wasn't there ---- because she was up kneeling between the two chairs in front of her, leaning forward and gripping the chairs and she cheered the horse on. Those of us around her got a great laugh once we saw how into it she was getting.
11And no, I'm not giving it away. It's a feel-good horse movie --- I don't think it's any big surprise that the race gets won.
12There'll probably be photos of that online too. Just keep checking out
http://www.thedome.org/new/HomeDome/index.html --- we've always got new photos and stuff showing up there.go to main page

2 Comments:

Blogger Natty said...

What fun!!!! Thanks for sharing it all, Steph!

7/29/2006 9:30 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks for so vividly sharing "how good it is to be here!"

7/30/2006 2:59 PM  

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