Poetry. Benedictine Spirituality. Love.

Envision the Benedictine value of Work through Visio Divina (Divine Seeing)

By Tracy Rittmueller | January 5, 2019

This is the second of 6 Visio Divina Meditations, as an alternative to New Years Resolutions. The Benedictine Value of Work through Visio Divina (Divine Seeing)The Rule of Benedict says, “When they live by the labor of their hands . . . then they are really monastics.” In Benedictine spirituality the purpose of work is life sustaining, work nurtures and serves. The Sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery tell us in a brochure about Joseph O’Connell’s limestone sculptures in their Gathering Place that this sculpture depicts the work of 19th century Sisters who “taught European immigrant children and American Indian girls [and] …

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Envision the Benedictine value of Prayer through Visio Divina (Divine Seeing)

By Tracy Rittmueller | January 1, 2019

This is the fist of 6 Visio Divina Meditations, as an alternative to New Years Resolutions. Joseph O’Connell’s Sculptures: Prayer, Work and Community The brochure “Vision Through Sculpture,” published by The Sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, explains that “In 1982, Joseph O’Connell . . . was commissioned by the Emerson Hynes family” to create a sculpture for the monastery. Using the Benedictine women who first came to St. Joseph, Minnesota as his inspiration, he portrays the Benedictine values of prayer, work and community that sustained the women as they “struggled with the pioneer challenges of poverty, hard work, hunger and illness.” …

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Visio Divina (Divine Seeing) as an alternative to New Year Resolutions: envision your new self-story based on Benedictine values and commitments

By Tracy Rittmueller | December 31, 2018

This is the introduction to 6 Visio Divina Meditations, as an alternative to New Years Resolutions. Visio Divina (Divine Seeing) as an Alternative to New Years Resolutions Benedictine Spirituality is not a self-improvement project, rather, because it is rooted in humility and relies on the gracious love of a divine power greater than ourselves, the Benedictine way of life is the opposite of self-improvement. As a practical guide to authentic gospel living, The Rule of Benedict  calls us to ever deeper and more loving relationships–with God, with ourselves, with the people and communities surrounding us, and with all things. By seeking …

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Exploring Inner Rooms: an online 12 days of Christmas retreat at Cloister Seminars

By Tracy Rittmueller | December 27, 2018

It’s not too late to join a heart-stirring, soul-deepening, online “12 days of Christmas” retreat at Cloister Seminars Retreat leaders, married couple Chuck Huff and Almut Furchert invite you to “take a break from the hustle and bustle, to breathe, and to wonder, guided and sustained by wise women and men.” Elaborating on the reflections of Johannes Eckert, Abbot of  St. Boniface and Andechs Abbeys in Munich, they will invite us to “think about our own dwelling places and about how we might welcome the Christ child” into our lives, no matter what are lives are right now.  From my experience with them …

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4 characteristics of vibrant, strong communities from The Rule of Benedict

By Tracy Rittmueller | December 21, 2018

The poet Emily Dickinson, now recognized alongside Walt Whitman as one of the cofounders of a uniquely American poetic voice, lived in almost complete social isolation.  If a poet wants to write remarkable, enduring poems, is it, therefore, best for her to live an isolationist life? Paul the Hermit lived his long adult life alone in the Egyptian desert. Legend says he was so saintly that a raven supplied his bread and two lions assisted in the digging of his grave. Does a solitary life, therefore, make a person holier (whole-ier?) While there have been a few poets who produced …

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What nuns, monks and poets know about heartfelt listening and how we learn compassion

By Tracy Rittmueller | December 6, 2018

What is heartfelt listening? Scientifically, the heart is the organ that pumps the blood. Philosophically or spiritually, however, the idea of “heart” is more difficult to put into words. Heartbreak is emotional anguish. Heartland is the center of a country. The heartless are unfeeling; to know something by heart requires intimate familiarity; and a heartwarming moment will give us a rush a pleasure. The heart is the essence of individuality, the combination of the way people think, their attachments, prejudices and affections, what they want and how they go about getting or giving up their desires. The heart is the …

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What nuns, monks and poets know about confirmation bias, with 3 practices to help overcome the fear of change

By Tracy Rittmueller | November 26, 2018

What is confirmation bias? It clouds vision and causes the prejudice that makes people irrational and illogical. It can negatively effect our health and well being. It increases the likelihood we will falsely accuse innocent people and will readily believe malicious, unfounded lies. It leads to miscommunication and conflict in relationships. It is confirmation bias. Psychologists tell us that while most of us believe that our opinions and “convictions are rational, logical, and impartial,” in reality, instead of analyzing facts objectively to understand what they mean, we are programmed to interpret facts in a way that will confirm whatever we already …

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8 Things Poets and Monastics Can Teach Us About Happiness; with 8 Poems to Make Life More Meaningful–Part 1 of a series

By Tracy Rittmueller | October 6, 2018

What poets and monastics have in common When people think about what poets and monastics (monks and nuns who live in monasteries) have in common, the list might look like this: They have their heads in the clouds; They’re hermits;. They dress weird; And they’re dying off.  Like all potent rumors, there’s a smidgeon of truth in each of those statements. Poets and monastics do tend to contemplate the nonmaterial world  —  love, death, memory, dreams, intuition, emotions, and the spiritual life. The work of poets (studying literature and writing poems) and of monastics (praying and reading scripture) frequently causes …

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Unpacking the Boxes: a small tribute to Donald Hall, (1928-2018)

By Tracy Rittmueller | June 25, 2018

Yesterday, when I read in the Concord Monitor that one of the last major American poets of his generation, Donald Hall, died at his home at the age of 89, I felt sad that I had neglected to write to him one more time. I never told him how much his example of the good life, the writing life, had shaped my own life. He would have liked to have heard that, I think. I didn’t know Donald Hall, but I knew his writing well, and I knew the story of his life through his books. In 1987, I addressed …

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The destruction of apathy: how Emma Gonzalez mobilized the tools of poetry to empower the #NeverAgain movement

By Tracy Rittmueller | April 14, 2018

On March 26, 2018, at the ‘March for Our Lives’ demonstration in Washington D.C., one of the march’s organizers, Emma Gonzalez, took the stage to speak against the insane notion that nothing can be done to protect us and our children from gun violence.  People were shaken out of apathy and the #NeverAgain movement, organized by Stoneman Douglas teens, gained momentum.  Miami New Times calls the #NeverAgain movement “unprecedented gun-control activism.” Of course, there’s a whole lot more to the #NeverAgain movement than Emma Gonzalez’s speech. A month before the March For Our Lives, George and Amal Clooney, Oprah, and …

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