It was in kitchens that I grew up. There were houses, but I did not grow up in houses. Kitchens were where the conversations were, the raising of children was done, the wisdom of the ages was passed on. Pancakes, broad vision, community. And it was in a kitchen where I told my husband, “I don’t think Nashotah House has anything to offer you.”
Jason, a postulant for holy orders from the Diocese of Middle Tennessee — my husband — wisely replied, “Perhaps.” And the next day he flew from Nashville to Milwaukee to Experience Nashotah.
Barbara Brown Taylor said: “Love of neighbor is why the Rule of St Benedict included a vow of constancy, requiring monks to stay put in one monastery instead of hopping around. What better way for them to learn that, nine times out of ten, the problem was inside of them, and not outside of them?”
Once in awhile, we all eat crow. As a family, we visited Nashotah House in March 2012. We have three sons and as we walked through the campus, they found the lake, the hiking trails and ran with our black Labrador. At our interview, the Dean said, “You as a family will be formed here.”
In the Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin, we realized Nashotah House had something to offer all of us. The Lord had graciously led us to a well. Sometimes, we don’t think about grace or faith, the meaning of salvation, or our purpose. Sometimes we just forget. At the House, we have studied with our friends. Our friends from around the country, our friends who are priests, bishops, deacons and the spouses; our friends who are no longer with us — Justin Martyr, the desert Fathers and Mothers, Hildegaard of Bingen, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. There is a divine richness here, with the recognition that faith and grace, the holy is all around us. Being here has helped us remember.
We could have gone to another seminary. But likely we would have gotten in the way of what God is forming in us — a holy reality. We arrived at the House having sold everything, having arrived from a city where we knew everyone, where our children attended an amazing school that we were blessed to help start. Jason and I are both seminarians, our boys are in high school and junior high. They play soccer, ride bikes, rake leaves, skate in the winter and swim in the summer. A vow of constancy. As a family we have taken that vow while here. We will carry that vow with us into the parish when our season at the House is complete.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth. ~ Sirach 6:14-15