Now this sister is a long-time teacher: 60 years, that is a long time! A teacher always carries a pencil or pen in her pocket, or at least in easy reach, for presumably literary thoughts or just a note to tell a student this or that for encouragement or reprimand as the case maybe. When I arrived at the Begijnhof two years ago I decided, ‘No pencil in the pocket.’ My daily routine is to reflect, pray, be with God, do lace. No pencil! But…in praying in the chapel or in church I get ideas which I hope are from God about varying things in my life, how to say I am sorry about something, how to think enough of others to say this or that, encouragement or just updating the calendar… What, no pencil! This morning in the monastery chapel, I had an inspiration—or so I thought. I prowled every little drawer in the chapel looking for a pencil to write on a brochure I had in hand. Not a pencil to be found! These sisters pray; they do not chase pencils for thoughts! The mere fact that there are no pencils in these drawers or perhaps only in a more hidden spot is silent and mute testimony to the primary importance of prayer and praise in this monastery. No pencils needed for that!
Another note on pencils. I did actually invest in some new pencils to study my Nederlands/Dutch. A teacher and a student often begin a new term with a new pencil or pen. The inscription on a pencil in a nearby store caught my eye and enshrines my hope of passing the 10 levels of Nederlands. I have succeeded through Level 7. Three more to go. “Alles begint met een potlood en een droom.” For those of my readers who are non-Dutch speakers, which may be everyone I know!! (one Dutch speaker faithfully reads my blogs), the translation is, ‘Everything begins with a pencil and a dream.’ A positive and encouraging thought to live by whether in the religious life or the life of the world.