By Oblate Madeleine Callahan
I wrote this poem during a presentation on Saint Scholastica by Sr. Teresa Schumacher, OSB (Saint Benedict’s monastery, MN) given at the 2017 NAABOD meeting.
After a discussion of the stories in the Dialogues by Pope St. Gregory, we were shown how Saint Scholastica has been depicted in Art through the centuries. Then we were asked to reimagine St. Scholastica in our own words.
In the poem, I was hoping to pose her first as independently chosen to be in community and second to be a listener as in the many portraits of Scholastica. Then, comes the drama, the wonder, the night of conversation that were witnessed and passed down to us.
Finally, I wanted to state the connection to why we, Oblates and Oblate directors, were reaffirming that this “sumptuous day” in the lives of Benedict and Scholastica was still in our DNA.
We are still looking forward in love, knowing about the storms, indeed feeling the reluctance and insistence to go deeper into the night’s wisdom.
Dedicated at birth,
her force of new life
captured by God,
shared with her sisters.
Faithful to her twin
in his life’s journey,
in their earnest intimacy,
they met in holy conversation.
Freely sharing her tender wisdom:
she called forth nature’s fearsome, raw
strength to hold down anxious Benedict.
Her dove spirit,
her resolute caring,
her to this last chance
to be with
her best companion brother;
her tears held them
said the witnesses.
Not just one person’s grief,
one garden hut in night’s dark womb,
one common table –
rather, a sumptuous complete day
of laying down guideposts
do we commemorate
as we meet as oblates still
loving into the future.
Both “reluctance and resistance to go deeper into the night’s wisdom” — that is exactly it! And the “sumptuous, complete day of laying down guideposts” reminds me of Shavuot (Pentecost) for Jews: a night spent in Torah study, in commemoration of the night the Torah was received (with its 613 guidelines…), sumptuously eating cheesecake and blintzes. Not the same sort of holy conversation, but they are neighbors.