Chipping Our Way to Stewardship

Greetings from the wild kingdom! Throughout these summer months we have been working on regaining a seasonal monastic pattern of the maintenance of our grounds. Through trimming, pruning, weeding, fertilizing, watering, raking and planning for what comes next, we have held stewardship of monastery possessions, property and grounds as a profound value that is alive throughout the Rule of Benedict. St. Benedict illustrates the importance of our charism of attentive stewardship in treating the utensils of the kitchen as if they were sacred vessels of the altar. I must confess, though, throughout the COVID years the maintenance of our grounds kind of got away from us. You may have noticed that the beautiful rhododendrons--which literally translates into “red trees”--have given St. Placid Priory a bit of a wild look lately.

Brian loads the Bluebird chipper

 Gratefully, we have had several of our extended community help us begin to wrestle and wrangle our overgrowth under control. In May a large contingent of volunteers from the Northwest Christian School, our next-door neighbors, spent about five hours yarding out miles and miles of voracious ivy from the landscape around our front court yard. Over the past few months several of our community members have been creatively carving out moments of time for pruning rhododendron trees back into manageable bushes and yarding out even more ivy, blackberry bushes, and prickly vines. Even today one of our oblates, Brian, came to help me chip the very large piles of rhododendron branches into footpath covering for the Sacred Path that meanders into the untamed wild of our back acreage. We only made a dent but it gave us an excellent excuse to use power tools as “sacred implements.”



Chipping away

 Over and over, we have found that yard work inherently has a rich capacity for the contemplative spirit to emerge. From this knowing of intrigue, attention, and wonder we have created a retreat based solely on this, the contemplative balance that Benedictine life thrives and relies upon, the interdependent nature of work and prayer. Our “Ora et Labora” takes place on Labor Day--fitting, don’t you think? In our busy and chaotic world, it is so easy to miss the forest for of the trees. Perhaps a day of “red tree” wrestling and ivy wrangling may help all of us gain some perspective on Benedict’s solemn vision of contemplative stewardship. I know that it has given me immense gratitude for power tools and the generous people who bless us by their love for wielding them – in a contemplative manner, of course.




Looking more like home



  • Comment posted by Sister Laura on August 25, 2023 at 2:58PM (10 months ago)

    How lovely of Oblate Brian to be part of this ministry. Me? Hauling away lots of 'dead stuff' including fern

  • Comment posted by Kathy Marshall on August 25, 2023 at 12:50PM (10 months ago)

    I could definitely see some people have been doing a lot of work, there. Earthing in the seventh of the quit grounds is definitely a grounding experience. I hope to put some gloves on and help when it cools down a bit. That would be nice!

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