Today at recreation, the daily hour where the the sisters laugh, share, play games like Scrabble (in numerous languages), there was a long mural displayed on the table. The paper was covered with lovely calligraphed lettering of Bible verses in Dutch; all kinds and types, shapes and sizes of calligraphed letters. I never knew an A could be written in so many different ways and still be an A!!
This mural is the creation of the American sister spending time in Belgium to study with a master calligrapher. We sisters oohed and aahed, but we follow in a creative tradition here at the Begijnhof; the Begijnhof’s own lace sister has just finished a new lace border which appeared on the altar while I was away. Cloisters and monasteries over the centuries were fraught with the creativity of God and although the sisters here are older; they still embody and carry on that tradition whether the gifts are flower arranging, candle making, administrative, cooking or lacemaking. God leaves no one out; we are truly the body of Christ with eyes, ears, feet and hands; each one needing the other and enjoying the gifts of the others making a complete and living body. The photo albums of the Beguinage are nostalgic and blessed, in themselves a walk through a myriad of beautiful processions and professions with embroidered vestments and decorative flower arrangements. We, newcomer American sisters, calligrapher and lacemaker, are simply treading a well traveled road made flat and plain by the sisters before us at the Begijnhof. We are so glad and grateful to share in this tradition here at the Begijnhof. The lacemaker works on a large altar cloth edging for the convent chapel in America and the calligraphy sister letters 24 large calligraphed Bible verses for the Sacred Art gallery in Italy.
The silence, quiet and prayer at the Begijnhof creates space for the breath and wind of the spirit to touch us (we hope) as we gratefully work to carry on the creativity and blessing of this tradition passed to us.