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Posts Tagged ‘Cowley Magazine’

As Iron Sharpens Iron – Raphael Cadenhead

This year, three exceptional young people took part in the Monastic Internship Program, living, worshipping, and working alongside the community for nine months. We asked them to reflect on what they would take away from the experience. Here is what Raphael Cadenhead had to say:

Raphael Cadenhead - 2

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). How, exactly, does life in community transform and ‘sharpen’ us?  This question has been on my mind since I arrived at SSJE in September, and I’m only now beginning to grope for an answer. Read More

A Gift, Not a Given: Living Gratefully – Br. Curtis Almquist

I first learned the power of gratitude as a young boy at a theater performance. The playbill was so carefully scripted – except, it turned out, for one thing that happened at the very end. As the curtain dropped and the stage lights dimmed, the audience spontaneously sprang to its feet with a thunderous applause and great cheers. The actors undoubtedly needed to hear our gratitude, but what brought us to our feet was our need to express gratitude. Expressing gratitude completes the experience.  Read More

Winter 2014 Cowley

The Winter 2014 issue of Cowley continues the theme of the Reconciliation focusing on reconciliation with the Creation.

In the Monastic Wisdom insert on “Reconciliation,” Br. Curtis Almquist suggests why and how to prepare our hearts for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Download a PDF here.

Cowley-Winter_40_2_CoverClick on the links below to read selected articles from the Winter 2014 Cowley Magazine:

  1. Br. James Koester delves into the scriptural meaning of gardens and how they reflect our deepest longings.
  2. Can we “own” any part of Creation? Br. Mark Brown relates the Brothers’ experience of stewardship at Emery House.
  3. The renovated Cloister Garden at the Monastery opens the door for a new relationship with Creation, which Br. Robert L’Esperance shares.
  4. Br. Jonathan Maury tells of his journey to the Monastery: a slow conversion of being called to wholeness of living.

There are many ways to read and share this Cowley magazine:

Tell us what you think of this Cowley Magazine in the comments below.
We welcome your comments, letters, or ideas for future articles.

Reconciliation with Creation: Reflections Written on a Summer Day – Br. Mark Brown

“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you
do not give up all your possessions.”
– Luke 14:33

SSJE134I’m writing from a room at Emery House with a bay window looking out over the meadow and the river beyond, which I can just make out through the trees along the bank. Some of you have probably stayed in this room (we call it the “Meadow Room”) while on retreat. I hear someone mowing in the distance behind me; Sophie, our “labradoodle,” is playing in the field across the road. There’s a lovely soft breeze today, the kind of delicious whispering through the woods that makes Emery House such an intoxicating place to be on a summer day.

The Brothers have been here since the 1950s, when this farm, which dates from 1635, came into our care, thanks to the generosity of the Emery sisters. But it was not only generosity to the SSJE that motivated these remarkable women. Sarah, Mary Elizabeth, Frances Louisa, and Georgiana Emery were devout Episcopalians who lived modestly on this farm, even after coming into a large inheritance. The legacy they received enabled them to be active in a number of ministries to the poor; in time, their paths crossed with Brothers from the SSJE, who were involved in some of the same charitable work. Read More

One Foot in Eden: Gardens in Scripture – Br. James Koester

8735353734_f2fa08dbb0_o Gardens and farms have been associated with monastic communities since the beginning of the monastic movement in the Church. We read stories of the Desert Ammas and Abbas tending their gardens. We know from the history of gardening that the monasteries of Europe were always associated with gardening (and in some cases plans and inventories have survived telling us, for instance, that garlic was one of the most popular things grown in English monasteries before the Reformation!) This connection between monasteries and gardens was for practical, theological, and spiritual reasons.

Practically speaking monasteries needed to feed themselves and the extended communities that grew up around them. As they are today, monasteries were centers of hospitality and mission, and there were always people who needed a bed, a meal, and a listening heart. Then, as now, food played an integral role in the daily life of any monastic community. What could not be produced by the monastery needed to be purchased, and so a surplus of what could be produced was used to buy or trade for what could not be produced. By the late middle ages, some monasteries in Europe had become great landholders, employing hundreds of people to farm and tend the land. In some cases land management and tenant relationships became a major preoccupation for many of the monks. Read More

A Reconciling Landscape: The New Cloister Garden – Br. Robert L'Esperance

Most High, all – powerful, all good, Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor and all blessing.1

8574456441_9c1c76d903_oThere is a cost to being in touch with our natural world. Like just about anything worth having there is a cost to it. There is real joy in discerning nature and its wonders, yet there is also pain in knowing this.

How utterly removed many of us are from nature that we don’t even seem to have a care for what we are looking at. On the one hand we see the autumn colors in the fall and we think “What a pretty picture!” What a glorious creation. Or we see the first spring green in the woods and say to ourselves, “How thrilling!” What a glorious creation. But we know the names of nothing. And that makes our lives easier. Once you learn the name of things, maybe you will see the early fall color along New England roadsides and think, “Oh, my, look at all those choking vines aglow in yellow: oriental bittersweet, everywhere.” That first spring green in the woods? Japanese barberry. The downside to knowing the names of things can be an element of disenchantment.

To witness the Creation truly, it should be an honor to know the names of things, to know our world by name. Naming the world was one of God’s first gifts to humankind. We should be able to name Creation, even though it might sometimes mean introducing new heartache or anxiety into our lives where before there was none, where before there were just pretty pictures.

Learning the names of things also deepens our appreciation for the sugar maple, the white oak, the tree or the shrub we may before have regarded as just some tree or bush like all others. The tree and the shrub become individuals, which is what they are, with an identity in the Creation that is unique and fantastic, with an ancient lineage all its own. A lineage like your own that brought you to this place, time, and moment in Creation. That tree, that shrub is an inheritor of billions of years of survival and each also is a giver to pollinators, birds, and the myriad upon myriad of icky things from which we would rather turn our gaze.

Birders can tell a sparrow from a sparrow, or a gull from a gull – and the world becomes richer, truer, more real. And what might be thought of as a dull sparrow becomes a source of excitement and joy.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother, who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces various fruits with colored flower and herbs.

Cloister during renovationsOn an August afternoon during the Monastery’s renovation, the Brothers made a field trip to Garden in the Woods, located in Framingham, Massachusetts, about twenty miles west of Boston. That trip constituted a turning point for the community in thinking about how to restore and renovate the Cloister Garden after the site was cleared of the construction materials that were housed there during the renovation. Up to that point, we had been thinking along quite conventional lines. That trip to Framingham helped us to begin to imagine something that would seek to bring other values to our idea of what our garden should be like.

It was in that visit that the idea of a naturalistic, native plant garden was born. The results of that vision are now visible from the cloister windows.

cloister garden 1With hundreds – no maybe thousands – of hours of careful research, planning, and design, the community’s friend, Patrick Smith, helped us bring to birth (the process sometimes felt just like that!) a vision of the cloister space that has been a transforming and life-giving experience for the entire community and our guests. Like so many other notions about the earth, the environment, and our role in that great interchange, ideas about what a garden is and should be are undergoing great changes. The garden design that Patrick developed for us tries to take many of these new understandings seriously and put them into practice.

We have been encouraged to think of our garden as an opportunity for us to be the best stewards of the land that we can be. Each plant was chosen with the site in mind, bringing into play the current thinking which advocates choosing plants that are appropriate to the existing environment rather than trying to artificially modify the environment to accommodate a less appropriate choice. This is about working with nature and what nature has already given to the site, rather than imposing something out of place. We also saw our garden as a being that should be life-sustaining to itself, us, and the other living beings with whom we share this space. This impulse lies behind much of what motivates any gardener to sink her hands into the soil: the desire to cultivate and connect with life itself.

Our garden is also intended to be a marker of time. We live our life according to a liturgical calendar that marks the natural rhythms of the seasons by recalling the great salvific acts of the Creator. Through the four seasons, the garden is designed to be a grand calendar, from snow covered limbs, through the bud-break of a million shining chalices, the steamy heat of summer alive with crickets and katydids, and then through the cool and refreshing fire of autumn’s colors.

OCSO and SSJE at 980Finally, the garden is a way of extending monastic hospitality to non-human guests. We are blessedly close to the beautiful Mount Auburn garden cemetery, the home or migration ground to so many birds and animals. Our garden’s berries, water, and shelter are already drawing wild birds that we have never seen before on the Monastery’s urban-enclosed grounds. In a sense, those visiting and lodging birds have become ambassadors by carrying those seeds and berries outside the garden perimeters into the wider world. As a nourishing and nurturing place, the Cloister Garden has in common with other native plant gardens the capacity of existing beyond its borders for the benefit of all.

The new Cloister Garden is a palate that will hopefully help each of us grow more and more into relationship with the individual plants. We hope guests who come will learn, as we Brothers have, to name and know the beautiful and varied forms and flowers of native dogwoods, sourwood, sweet-bay magnolia and autumn witch hazel, old man’s beard, ironwood, serviceberry and paw-paw. We hope you’ll spot the divine presence along the paths that wind through an understory of viburnum, rhododendron, holly, spice-bush, and mountain laurel.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks, and serve him with great humility.


1. [The italicized lines throughout this article are taken from Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures (The Society of St. Francis, Little Portion Friary, Mt. Sinai, NY: 1926).]

 

Called to Wholeness of Living: A Conversation about Vocation with Br. Jonathan Maury

 6280240268_e764818121_oWhen did you first have a sense of your vocation? 

When I was a young chorister in my parish, I became fascinated by the church’s history and very caught up in its worship. Although only half aware of it at the time, I do remember being very drawn to images of monastics as depicted in books or films. When my brothers and I would play together, they’d always want to be the knights, and me the friar! Also early on, growing up on Nantucket Island, I became aware of a contemplative component to my emerging personality. I spent much time on my own, in solitude and communing with God in nature. Often I had a sense that I was being called to a different kind of life. And hearing the gospels, I knew that Jesus invited people to a different way of being in the world, renouncing individualism and violence, and dedicated to community and mutual love.  Read More

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