The American sister at the 800-year-old Beguinage monastery, as this blog claims, has been joined by another American sister! She has come to Brugge to the Begijnhof to study calligraphy with a master teacher in St Kruis, a stunningly peaceful leafy suburb of Brugge. The ride on the bus and the meandering in among the beautiful cleanly lined homes is heavenly and even waiting at the bus stop is a pleasant oasis. A contented gray cat perches in the window, manicured gardens line immaculate driveways and a large well ordered farm with cows and horses grazing peacefully and lazily borders the suburb. My sister does not yet speak Dutch but it is coming. This morning was her first prayer in the open prayer time in Lauds. Her arrival prompted the priest to invite us after Mass to his home beside the church; he is the only man allowed to live in the Begijnhof courtyard! The priest speaks English and had great curiosity about our home convent in America.
Adjusting to new language, new country, new convent, new culture is nothing short of overwhelming but the new American sister is astoundingly content and happy. The peacefulness of the Begijnhof and the 800 years of continuous prayer has an overwhelming and pervasive effect on making and keeping the courtyard holy….a fascinating concept. Everyone feels it but no one can exactly put their finger on what it is….quiet, peace? We sisters, though, faithfully carry on the 800-year tradition of prayer, private and corporate every day as the tradition was passed to us from the faithful portraits and paintings lining our walls. These bygone sisters, priests and Beguines have tread this earth before us. May all who come and walk our courtyard be as blessed as our new American sister.