How Can We Be Open to Transformation? a story, a poem, and a spiritual practice to foster change-adaptability

By Tracy Rittmueller | January 30, 2021

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change… To accept life as it is, is to accept that I am not done changing and growing. Thinking I can control life makes it hard for me to accept change. Admitting my need for change requires an inner acknowledgement that I might have been wrong–I could been kinder, more patient, more loving. And that admission is painful. I also cling to a persistent fantasy that someday soon I will reach that happily-ever-after place in my story. But, the truth is, life is no fairy tale.

multi-colored heart on round wood block

Listen with the ear of your heart to make up your mind: a Benedictine process for spiritual discernment

By Tracy Rittmueller | January 1, 2021

This article is for spiritual seekers, Benedictine Oblates, anyone seeking to nurture a sacred way of life, and people practicing a 12-step program who want to explore centuries-old wisdom to support Step 11 (about praying for the knowledge of the will of God [Higher Power] and the strength to carry it out.) In this article, principles for the practice of discernment come from the “Statement on the Rule of Discernment in the Lives of American Benedictine Women,” published by the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses ©2001. I will unpack the following line from that document, to offer a framework in …

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Have I found something to say?

What poets, monks and nuns know about silence

By Tracy Rittmueller | November 5, 2020

Poets live with silence:  the silence before the poem;  the silence when the poem comes; the silence in between the words, as you drink the words, watch them glide through your mind, feel them slide down your throat toward your heart …. —Michael Shepherd, “Rumi’s Silence” Silence, poetry and prayer have something in common—they connect us to the mysterious aspects of living. We can’t describe or explain mysteries. We can, however, experience them. I first learned about the benefits of silence through a long association with poets. More recently after becoming a Benedictine oblate, I’ve gotten to know monks and …

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61 Free Resources to support your mindful self-compassion practice

By Tracy Rittmueller | October 26, 2020

This blog post by poet and Benedictine Oblate Tracy Rittmueller begins with a reflection on the difficulty of learning to be compassionate with ourselves, and shows where to access all the free resources you need to begin practicing mindful self compassion.

How poetic and monastic practices empower a vibrant, sacred way of life

By Tracy Rittmueller | October 26, 2020

In search of a vibrant, sacred way of life Do you want to explore the mysterious, wild regions of living a vibrant, sacred way of life? Maybe you feel called to be an artist—potter, painter, dancer, musician, poet, crafter, or doodler. Perhaps you want to associate with people who will help you grow in wisdom, because you’re seeking courage to devote yourself to the service of Love.  If the words authenticity, connection, consciousness, peace, and gratitude speak to the mystical core of silence and solitude within you, I invite you to ask, “How?” Ask not what can I do? Ask …

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8 Things poets and monastics know about the power of words

By Tracy Rittmueller | October 25, 2020

This is part 3 of the series 8 Things Poets and Monastics Can Teach Us About Happiness; with 8 Poems to Make Life More Meaningful. For part 1 of the series, go here. About words…. We think we know what words are—the spoken sounds and written letters we combine to form sentences to convey what we mean. Words carry on conversations, broadcast news, spread rumors, make promises, utter threats, express complex emotions, form ideals, formulate questions, make peace, build a better world, destroy reputations, crush hope, and declare war. Words are powerful.  Poets and monastics are word-centered people.  Poets use words …

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For Greater Serenity, Practice Playfully

By Tracy Rittmueller | October 20, 2020

I’m trying to see life more playfully, from a child’s point of view. For the reward of necessary joy, I’m ready to turn my adult-y, logical way of knowing how upside down. Sometimes adult life feels inelegant, unmanageable and hard. There is sickness, suffering and death. There are fractured relationships we can’t repair. The international, national and local news can be heartbreaking—divisive, ugly, violent. To counter your feelings of helplessness and sorrow, watch a child at play. I love to watch my six-year-old granddaughter cartwheeling. Her joy is so effervescent, it’s contagious. She sprints across the newly greened spring lawn then leaps …

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3 things nuns, monks and poets know about why you should “keep death daily before your eyes”

By Tracy Rittmueller | October 15, 2020

For the next year or so, I will be studying Michael Casey’s Seventy-four Tools for Good Living: reflections on the fourth chapter of Benedict’s Rule with my oblate group at Saint Benedict’s monastery. Among those seventy-four tools is this one: “To have death present before one’s eyes every day.” (RB 4:47) And this is a tool for good living??? That we should think daily about the imminent death of everyone we know and our own mortality may seem counter-intuitive. How can the constant awareness of death make our lives happier? But monastics are not the only people who live consciously with …

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23 Spiritual Practices Taught by The Rule of Benedict

By Tracy Rittmueller | September 27, 2020

What do spiritual practices do? Practice is how people develop the skills to become adept at anything. Music students practice their instruments. Gymnasts practice routines, yoga students practice poses, swimmers practice strokes, and tennis players practice their serves. Successful organizational leaders practice self-mastery and teamwork. Just as all these people practice to become more proficient, spiritual seekers practice in order to become better at living a spiritual life.  What is the Rule of Benedict? Do you yearn for a good life, and do you desire to see good days? Near the end of his life in 547 AD, Benedict of Nursia …

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Judith Valente–poet, journalist, and Benedictine oblate–on "How To Live"

By Tracy Rittmueller | April 23, 2020

At the intersection of reading and writing, in the spaces where listening, silence, prayer, and wonder happen–there is poetry. There, too, is where I find support for living as a Benedictine. Some months ago I decided that my blog will focus on “Reading, Writing, and the Benedictine way of life.” Since then, I’ve been pondering what I want to write about the way I live now. Judith Valente has made it easy for me. Her recently published How to Live: What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning, and Community is a book I would like to …

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