By Annette Procunier
Home for the Heart is the title of the funding campaign launched this year by the Sisters of St. John the Divine to refurbish their Guest House which is the only Anglican residential retreat facility in Canada.
The title is a genuine reflection of the attitude shared by anyone who has had the opportunity to become engaged with this compelling community and spend time in their home. In this day and age when monasticism is not really an integral part of the average Christian experience, becoming connected to such a community is a rare and treasured gift.
The word 'monasticism' can conjure up many images for people. It is often seen as something ancient and separate from ordinary life, which in many ways it is, but it is also a way of being, that is deeply connected to the world as it strives to create a deeper connection to God through prayer, service and community life lived under a rule of life embraced by its members. The Sisterhood of Saint John the Divine, an Anglican order of nuns, is Benedictine, and it lives under the rules of hospitality, honouring of creation, justice, respect for everyone and the spiritual orientation toward prayer, scripture, and the seeking the presence of Christ in all things.
As an associate of the Sisters I have experienced the care, compassion and strength of being part of a community of believers and the solace that having a spiritual home provides. No matter where I live or what parish I am associated with, the constant presence of my Benedictine Rule of Life guides and accompanies me, as do the prayers, support, and encouragement of the Sisters.
Each day I find strength and a deepening of my faith through the daily office and my life of prayer which is rooted in the Benedictine practice of reading scripture, meditation and listening. When worshiping with the Sisters I am always spurred to greater understanding when after each scripture passage the direction is to “Listen for the leading of the Spirit”. This simple but meaningful phrase reminds me that it is the Spirit who guides and directs me and that my role is to listen and respond. Being part of a community of faith is a gift I treasure and look forward to continuing to nurture for the rest of my life.
Annette Procunier is a lay reader at St George`s Goderich.
(Photo: Prayer walking - Labyrinth at St. John the Divine Convent)