By Stephanie Donaldson
A year ago I began a journey that paralleled a journey that I already was on.
A friend asked me if I would like to go the Sisterhood of St John the Divine (SSJD) Convent in Toronto on a retreat with her. I had never been and happily accepted. This was not an intentional oversight as I had been booked to go in 2010. My late husband’s health took a turn for the worse and I had to cancel.
While I was looking forward to it I did have some apprehensions: we had chosen a time when there was no program to allow us to immerse ourselves into the rhythm of this special place.
Our days began with breakfast followed by Morning Prayer, Holy Eucharist at noon, lunch, then supper at five followed by Compline. It was very easy and natural to slip into a life of reflection, discernment and prayer. I chose to spend a lot of time on the labyrinth, praying as I made the circuit. It is such an incredibly peaceful place that prayer just comes naturally.
One day Reverend Mother noticed that we had picked up a brochure about their Associate’s program. She asked us if we were interested. When we responded affirmatively she made an appointment for us to meet with the Director of Associates.
We were interviewed and asked to return home and discern and pray about this for a year. To quote the brochure, we were now part of a group of men and women, lay and ordained, members of a Christian community, who seek to deepen their life in Christ through following the Rule of Life in association with the Sisters. In other words, we were ordinary people seeking ‘something more’ in their spiritual lives and believing that they can be nurtured on their spiritual journey through being connected with the life and ministry of a monastic community. We were entering a relationship of mutual support of prayer, love and ministry that exists between the Sisterhood and the Associates.
We followed the rule for Associates:
Further we are to include: All Associates, Those in Discernment, All Oblates, The Community, and Vocations in our daily prayers. This past week we returned to SSJD and were admitted as Associates as our crosses were placed around our necks.
It was a powerful and most moving service and brought the first leg of our journey to a conclusion.
I say ‘first leg’ as the journey continues. It is a journey that has no end, As we travel we will, “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.
Stephanie Donaldson is AFP Huron Executive.
(Featured photo: Eric Didier/Unsplash)