Members of the Care for Creation monastery wrote these responses as a community activity.
1. Why did you join this online monastery?
As leader, Janet offered this monastery for those committed to care for the wellbeing of all creation. Others joined to share that vision. One wrote, it “is a place where my concerns for all manifestations of life can be discussed.” Some had found the conversation on the main MOH page was quenching a deep thirst and wanted a way to keep that conversation going. One expressed “a yearning for like-minded like-hearted companions and an opportunity to genuinely commit.” Another wrote, “I was looking for some sort of spiritual ‘place’ in which I could be grounded and brought back to my center.”
2. What has been the biggest surprise in the experience for you?
We commented on the diversity of the membership, the myriad viewpoints, perspectives and interests expressed, the intelligent, honest, fun, radical and creative sharing, the giftedness of each person. Yet, there are “great and unifying similarities--above all, how loving our small community is, the love and respect for one another seldom found elsewhere.” One member even wrote that her biggest surprise was to find herself participating in a process of monastic formation.
3. How far-flung is your monastery geographically?
Australia, Scotland, and the US (eastern, western, midwest and southern states).
4. What would you say is the biggest gift of an online monastery?
Some responses were: “Everyone in it, united in a common cause, which so far seems to me to find the still small voice within, the quiet at the center of the storm, helping one another to be ‘in the world, not of it.’” “Inviting the monastic in each of us to find a spiritual family to feel at home with--closely related to--and companions to encourage us on our journey.” “The biggest gift of an on-line Monastery is Being Included. I value the opportunities to speak and be heard; to be silent and listen. To be engaged with others in a way which seems less possible off-line in my physical locale. However, practicing on-line does have roll-over effects in the ways I live with friends, neighbours, family, and strangers.”
5. What is the biggest challenge?
Balancing on-line activity with daily life, reminding “myself that without my authentically lived life right where I am this life within our gift of a community would deteriorate into a lifeless sham.” Also keeping up with all the wonderful ideas expressed.
6. What would you say is unique about your monastery?
That we talk about the human world, the Christian scriptures and the non-human world as an important dimension of Creation, in such a way that cynicism and despair gives way to quiet optimism. That we have a particular mix of members, a particular leader with her vision and leadership style, that our Creator works within each one of us and within our community.
7. What would you suggest that others reflect on as they consider leading a online monastery?
The leader needs to ”make each one feel welcome and that they have an important contribution to make”, and also to facilitate that attitude in the group as a whole. One member offered these questions for a prospective leader:
Is God calling me to a particular work by giving me a vision/hunger/urgency to try to attract others to join me in that exploration? What is my motivation--if not a true call? Is someone else offering much the same vision and could I join in that exploration or are such opportunities non-existent or closed to me at present? Am I too cosy where I am? Am I prepared to risk possible failure?
8. Other comments?
“I just know that this MOH makes my heart sing! I love to come on, and see what everyone is saying....and most of all, it has kept me mindful of the sacredness of life....the ‘new buds under the bark’ for sure!”
“The revolutionary nature of the Benedictines Sisters of Erie opening up a monastery for all and our willingness to say ‘yes’ through our participation. I think we are the change in the church that will outlive the blown away ashes from parishes that have closed, churches permanently locked, lands sold to pay off legal fees, the unspoken masses of baptized but alienated catholics. Somehow, in this wasteland, we are saying, ‘yes.’”