Stability and Spirit
Haley Todd, CVV Year 16, was a part of the first year of two communities. Coming from Ohio, Haley, served at Urban Peak during her CVV year. Currently, she is in administration at Emily Griffith School in Denver. When Haley is having fun you can find her in the mountains or in the city but she will always have her puppy, Bella, with her.
A few weeks ago I ventured back to the midwest, to a monastery on a hill in the farmlands of southern Indiana. Since 2003, Saint Meinrad has been a place of meaning in my life, and I returned for a short 48-hour trip for the first time in three years to celebrate a good friend’s Solemn Vows.
As a freshman in high school, I attended a summer conference at Saint Meinrad. Throughout college I spent the summers living on the Hill in intentional community with 20 other young adults, leading these same One Bread, One Cup conferences, welcoming high school students into the rhythm of monastic life while learning about the Liturgy. I have returned time and time again over 16 years, and this visit I was struck by the gift of the juxtaposition of stability and Spirit.
At Saint Meinrad, when the bells chime, manual labor ceases, the candles are lit, and the Gregorian chant begins. Every day. Every time. Stability. To ground.
And yet the faces of the monastic community have changed, the guests who are welcomed vary day by day, and as for me, my prayers and encounters in the same place over the years have been those of joy, sorrow, gratitude, mercy, and even loss. Spirit. To guide.
On most past visits, as I rounded the final corner and the monastery and arch-abbey first came into view, I found myself craving a re-creation of such deep experiences – of the same community of interns, living in the same hallway, sharing the same days of learning and serving and nights of laughter and relationship building. This visit, however, as I rounded the same corner and first glimpsed that same view, I felt a different response. I was struck during my visit that while that time and space can never exist again exactly as they were, the Spirit continues to guide and stability continues to ground.
During the very first line of Midday Prayer, I was reminded how starkly different my rhythm and pace are in my life today. As the monks began, “O God, come to my assistance…” I had finished my response before the monks had even begun theirs! What an immediate reminder of how unstable I was and how different my automatic pace is in my day-to-day!
I share about Saint Meinrad because my experience there and my year at CVV undoubtedly serve as two of the most foundational and transformative encounters of my life. Much like Saint Meinrad, we can never re-create our year at CVV. And yet, returning to WoHo and CoHo, connecting with alum, or sharing a conversation with Bill and MF, invite us to reground in our experience and challenge us to witness the Spirit’s guidance in our lives today.
Still living in Denver and serving a population similar to those I served during my year with CVV, I witness the Spirit’s guidance and also realize how easily I can lose my groundedness and stability when caught up in the “to dos” of the work. My visit back to St. Meinrad reminded me of how important both stability and the Spirit are in the role of CVV in our lives after our year on Pearl Street.
For me, CVV brought stability through a message of companionship with those on the margins that grounds my language and lens while serving my students. It’s also clear to me how the Spirit has guided since CVV, shifting the population I serve, now both students and staff, and calling me to reflection and action in new ways over time. Yet, how easy it is for me to become consumed and un-centered, losing my groundedness and unable to hear the Spirit.
Especially considering the transition ahead for the CVV community in its 25th year, I witness a beautiful community that keeps stable, grounded in the vision and mission, while trusting in to the Spirit to guide.
As alum, what from your own CVV experience stabilized and grounded you? In what ways has the Spirit guided and taken new shape in your life throughout the years after your experience? I invite you to share, reflect, and reconnect with our groundedness and our Guide, as we journey together.