12 November 2008

Speaking Conventionally

This week, a lot of my thoughts were about how quite excellent it can be to stay in the convent -- with the caveat that I also leave every week (and come back). But they really care and the pace and schedule of my day there is really healthy for me mentally and physically. I kind of think that the environment and especially the sisters there do much more for me in so many ways than I do for them, and I've got no idea how to express my thankfulness.

The photo above is a detail from my pillowcase -- which is a quite complicated cultural artifact once the surface is scratched. The fabric itself comes from the now-closed (as of last year) textile factory in Ružomberok -- my principal worked there while she was still having to live civilly. The identificatory embroidery is comforting because it's so expected, but on the other hand, it names my status in red -- guest.

This week, there was adoration, which happens on the Monday after the First Friday, but this week it was on Tuesday -- and we're already in the second week of the month, so it was like second Tuesday adoration. When I'm at the convent, I don't normally pray with them, because I think they go to the parish church down the street for a lot of services and I can't really figure it out, and they're really not particularly forceful about such things anyway. I can't remember the last time I participated in this devotion, and my mind is not especially spiritually disciplined these days (nor is it especially disciplined for academic work, but that is another post -- though closely related in terms of mental discipline, which has shifted in some ways). But my main thought was about how absolutely ancient and integrated religious life is to the world -- and so it becomes something really big when you start thinking about all of the other places in the world where there are people in the religious life also praying at the same time or at least also in convents and monasteries all over the world, which really can't hurt the current state of affairs. The other really interesting thing was the way they recited vespers (I think; there were psalms involved) together afterwards -- it was obviously requiring a high degree of discipline but everyone of course also knew what to do and how to do it.

I'm really kind of living in one big huge participant observation.

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