Winter Storm of ’21

 It’s hard to believe now–when we are enjoying temperatures in the upper 70s and even low 80s–that last week at this time we were freezing, literally! However, that proves the old saying: “If you don\’t like the weather in Texas, wait a minute and it\’ll change.”

As we reported earlier, when we had a more fun snowfall in January, we realize that for many people ice storms, temperatures going down to 6 and 8 degrees Fahrenheit (and maybe lower) and such are part of the usual winter condition. But here in Texas, we’re just not used to it–and we\’re not prepared for it, either! One of our sisters, a transplanted Midwesterner, kept assuring us that everything would be fine “when the snow plows come through”. We finally managed to explain to her that there are no snow plows in Texas. She was astonished!

We will have a lot more on this story–what happened and how the community coped–in our Spring issue of “Monastery Bells”. Here’s just a few items that stand out.

(To the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, with apologies to the authors)

On the day of the Presidents, our Savior gave to us:

–Hundreds of branches snapping

–Eighteen nuns a-shivering

–Several rolling blackouts

–Ten space heaters

–Seven puzzles finished

–Five free days!

–Four busted pipes

–Three inches of snow

–Two pairs of socks each

–And a great, loving community!

We can say this both of our own community and the community of Lufkin! We are so grateful to all the people who came out to help us (and there were many!) and also for everyone who helped us get our generator some years back. We never thought we would need it for a winter storm, but God provided! This was especially important for our elderly sisters, who were able to have heat in their infirmary rooms most of the time. And, we were able to have some lights–definitely necessary in our large building!

We continue to pray for the many people who have suffered more with this storm than we have, both in Texas and throughout the south. We are extremely grateful to all of you who prayed for us! We managed to avoid serious injuries and illness, and even to keep cheerful during the difficult times, which was truly a work of grace. Know that we pray for all of you, too, every day and every hour!

Nuns of Many Hats

Warm hats make warm hearts filled with gratitude!

There\’s an expression in English used to describe someone who has many different jobs or responsibilities. \”She works full time, takes care of her husband and children, and volunteers at church–she\’s a woman of many hats!\” In the same way, cloistered nuns wear many \”hats\”, in a manner of speaking. 

Our primary work is of course prayer, and specifically, praying the entire Liturgy of the Hours. To this we add a community rosary, recitation of the penitential psalms for the dead, a period of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for each sister (which includes an extra time of adoration during evening recreation, when your turn comes around) and two periods of meditation each day. Oh, and of course, the community Mass every morning. That\’s a lot of prayers! 
In between prayers, we manage to squeeze in work time in our various departments. Sisters pack altar breads, write thank-you notes to benefactors, send both prayer enrollment cards and our special three-part folders, keep our budget balanced, cook meals, clean, attend to visitors, work on the website and update the blog, accompany the men who have come to do maintenance of any kind inside the monastery. And, each sister carves out a place in the day to study, because study is one of the main pillars of Dominican spirituality. And in addition to all this, we have two periods of recreation (one is optional) and a siesta time. How does it all get done?
Of course, all our strength and ability to do these many works comes from God–which is why we make prayer the the center point of our lives. Everything we do is fueled by our prayer, our openness to God and the graces He wants to give us each day. When we are really trying to cooperate with His grace, even the rough patches go more smoothly. 
Recently, one of our benefactors made this hat metaphor more concrete by giving us a lot of hand knitted hats! Each one is different and unique, and each sister was allowed to choose one she thought was most fitting (in more ways than one–it\’s amazing how many sizes heads come in!). It was a delightful surprise and a welcome one, too. Many sisters enjoy walking in all sorts of weather, and this kind of hat is ideal for wearing over the veil. Some sisters prefer to wear a hat to bed, to keep their heads warm while they sleep, and they are perfect for this, too. 
We are so grateful to this benefactor–and all our benefactors–who help us to live this life of prayer, praise, study and penance. We literally could not do it without you! Thank you, thank you all so much!