Ruzie is the word in Dutch for conflict or argument. The word sort of sounds like what it is: conflict. Maybe you think there should not be ruzies in the convent or that Nuns are somehow exempt. The answer to that is, No! Nuns like all others get into disagreements and maybe have more opportunity for conflict living so close to one another on a daily basis. I can certainly do my part to rupture peace and harmony.

Whether in a cloister, in international politics, or in a family,  the question is how do these ruzies get resolved?  I know how this works at my home convent: sisters talk, ascertain where they were wrong and seek forgiveness, God’s and each other’s. Peace is restored and visitors to my home convent often comment on the peacefulness of our grounds. I would venture that most monasteries are peaceful as the nuns and monks are dedicated to  reconciliation and people are drawn to spend a week end or a few hours on monastery grounds. How does this work though when you are a contemplative nun and live primarily in silence? Silence does provide the opportunity to reflect, like during the readings at mealtimes and in services. I did observe peace and harmony rupture one evening, even as the silence continued. I, for my part, examined my heart, and when the community returned for Lauds in the morning there was the sweetest spirit and peace in the singing. How did that happen? I frankly do not know.

“No one who has not lived in a cloister can fully understand just how intertwined are the lives of cloistered nuns. Their hearts may be wide as the universe and bottomless as eternity but the practical details of their living are boxed into a small area within the cloistered walls. Cloistered nuns rub souls as well as elbows all their lives. It is the business of each individual nun to allow this unique meshing of lives and hours make her a compassionate woman with a vast and tender pity for her sisters and the world.” Hildegaard of Bingen


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