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Blessings to you! Some weeks are best not spoken about! This has been one of those kinds of weeks. At times there are frustrations for me personally in the relationships within the community or in my own relationship as the abbot with a monk of the house. At other times there are challenges because of the maintenance or because of one of the utility systems of the monastery. At times there are challenges with regular sleep patterns. When all of the challenges appear in one week, it is a very special week!

Of course, even the worst weeks bring also various blessings. And the challenges always turn to blessings as well if I can remain in interior prayer. I don't always manage that, but intermittently I do!

As I mentioned last week, I dislike conflict and I dislike having to deal with topics that leave myself or others uneasy. I dislike telling a brother that he needs to change something--especially when he should know it already. I am really uneasy around anger and so the more likely I think that a brother would respond in anger, the less like likely I am to do anything. But in the past month and particularly in the past week, I have prayed simply to do what is right and to ignore my own uneasiness and fears around anger.

Dealing with those types of situations takes lot of energy and then leaves me more prone to depression and to sexual thoughts--one of the easy ways of coping with stress. When I am really good, the depression and sexual thoughts and other day-dreaming can get translated into pray in the presence of God. When I am sort of good, then I sometimes get to prayer. And when I am not good, I simply struggle.

This last Saturday night our electricity on the north part of the monastery quit. We have two fairly large powerhouses, which are fed by the solar panels that we have on the property. In the powerhouses are also very large generators that are supposed to start automatically when there is not enough electricity produced from the solar panels. Well, the north power house was not producing enough electricity and the generator did not start. That means that, as a result, the inverters than change DC electricity to AC electricity, shut down and turn off all of the electricity in order to save the batteries.

Since each of the battery banks has a replacement cost of about $50,000, I am always happy that the inverters turn off rather than try to keep pulling electricity and thus damaging the batteries.

In our community, over many years, we have had various brothers who know what to do when the inverters turn off. I am one of those and I can usually figure out how to get things running again. When the inverters went off at 9:20 pm, I went out to see what I could do. Usually I just have to start the backup generator manually. It is supposed to come on automatically, but did not do that. And I could not get it started. So I looked at the situation and thought that the battery for the generator might not be charged. I took it out and hooked it up to a vehicle with jumper cables. Then I took it back in and still nothing happened. So then I took the battery out of the vehicle itself and hooked that up. Still nothing. About then another brother came to help and two is always better than one. We tried adding oil to the generator, just on the chance that it might be too low. The dip stick had not indicated that, but it was worth trying.

So we moved to the inverter room and had to read the manuals for the new inverters in order to do anything. We tried a couple of things, but still without results. By 11:30 pm we called it quits!

So off to bed and then the bell rang for Vigils at 3:40 am and I decided not to get up. It rang again at 3:50 am. Again I stayed in bed. There was a knock at my door and I did not rise. But as I was there in my bed, trying to go back to sleep, I realized that I needed to rise and ask the Prior to send someone out to phone to the technicians who help us, since our phones do not work without electricity. And I also need to ask the Prior not to use the car from which I had borrowed the battery! Ah, the contemplative life!!

Both challenges with brothers and challenges with technology affect my sleep patterns and when my sleep patterns are affected, my eating patterns also get affected. I work best with a regular schedule without problems. Probably most of us work better that way. We don't always get to choose, however, and then we must deal with the effects of the challenges on our sleep and our eating. Some people eat less when they are stressed. I always eat more. Some people sleep a lot to avoid stress. I sleep less.

Spirituality has to do with learning to cope with the realities of our lives and striving to keep everything focused on the relationship with the living God. That is always easy to say and to speak about. For me, it seems impossible at times, but I keep trying to be faithful. Always I function better when I am not distracted by other responsibilities. But other responsibilities are part of my life and so I keep trying to learn how to function with whatever God sends to me. I know that the world is not focused on me! On the other hand, I want to be focused on God and part of his mystery of salvation.

How to stay aware of God's love? This always includes spending time with God, weather I sense His presence or not. It means that I try to live by His Word in my life, even when that Word seems distant or not even helpful. It means continuing to pray even when the prayer seems useless and empty. Persevering in these realities has, so far, in my life, always been able to transform whatever situation into a situation of grace and of Divine Presence. Sometimes I tire of the effort, but I have not found anything better.

Always I send my love and prayers for you. I will offer Holy Mass this week again for you and for your needs and intentions. Please pray for me and for all of the sisters and brothers of our communities.


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