Golden Jubilee of Sr. Genevieve Durcan
[Scripture Readings: Sir 1:1-10; Eph 3:14-21; Mk 9:2-8]
In the early 1920's there were two neighbors who used to help each other bring in the harvest. They were New Hampshire farmers so the fields were not too big. One would cut the hay with a scythe and the other would rake it over to dry. The man raking was a poet and wrote a poem about their mutual work. He noticed as he went along that the mower had moved to another field out of sight. He writes:
“But he had gone his way, the grass mown
And I must be as he had been – alone,
As all must be, I said within my heart.
Whether they work together or apart”.
So he goes along feeling the solitude of it all until he comes upon a spot by the brook where the mower left a tall tuft of flowers, “a leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared” he writes. The mower, he goes on, had “loved them thus, by leaving them to flourish not for us but for the sheer morning gladness of it all” A spirit kindred to his own because this is exactly what the poet would have done.
Robert Frost is the one raking and the incident is enshrined in a poem entitled “The Tuft of Flowers.” The last stanza sums it up beautifully. “Men work together …from the heart, whether they work together or apart.” More in keeping with the jubilee community we could change it to, “Women work together from the heart whether they work together or apart.” I think this is a wonderful description of a Cistercian community. Working together and apart from the heart; community and solitude, even when we work together we are apart because that is our vocation to live in the alone of life; to find in the alone a presence. Dom Bernardo wrote in his 1999 circular letter, “The mystical experience concerns the direct apprehension of one's interiority, the experience of deep presence and communion from within one's depths.” I believe this is the meaning of that consecrated verse, “Never less alone than when alone.”
Poetic words do not stay in place they migrate all over the like birds, and nest in the strangest places like Gen's Golden Jubilee. Let's take a look at the phrase, “Women work together from the heart whether they work together or apart.” Gen lives apart from the community yet she and you are joined in the heart; the heart of friendships that grew up through the last fifty years, the heart of your shared Cistercian vocation or ultimately through the heart of Jesus the source of all our vocations.
Today's Gospel is the story of the Transfiguration where Jesus revealed what was hidden from the eye of his disciples. But it is not only about that one transfiguration and that one Glory; it is about all the love and glory that is hidden from us in our daily life. Do we really see what is before us? Robert Frost saw in a few flowers the binding force of love, he feels with his neighbor “… a spiritual kindred to my own, so that henceforth I worked no more alone.”
What is happening in our soul is often hid from us but the revelation of Christ in Glory on the holy mountain is a promise that we too shall be revealed as St. Paul says, “You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear…” (Col. 3:1-4).