This article first appeared in the COMMUNITY (ISOLATION) issue of Spit & Spirit. Learn more about the issue and the magazine.
A couple of years ago I met a woman who started the Order of St. Hildegarde. It’s a religious order in the way of Benedict for transgender women. She told me the story of starting the order. She felt a calling to the life of a devoted religious person but there was nowhere for her to pursue that vocation. So she started it herself.
I loved hearing her talk about it and seeing her wear her robes throughout the weekend.
It made me think about the things that I feel called to but feel like I can’t be a part of because they don’t exist. I, too, have spent time exploring a call to the life of a devoted religious. I’ve explored what it would mean for me to live in community or to be a part of a monastic order. I’ve dealt with the pain and sadness when I realized that there probably wasn’t an order that would take me as a transgender person.
I dream of an order that takes seriously both contemplation and activism. That spends a lot of time in silence and devoted reading and prayer and then goes out and works at changing the world. I see an order that is accepting of queerness and the gift that it is to the world and the church.
I long for a church/monastery that is open to all where the rhythms of prayer and contemplation uphold the community as it seeks to live out justice.
I appreciate so much the example of the Carthusian monks (and that ideal of solitude really appeals to me as an introvert) and so I would want that to be incorporated as well. Silence and solitude would be the fuel that would allow us to engage in powerful and profound ways. And our silence and solitude would be an example to the lives of over scheduled and hectic people.
This could be the beginning of a life of anarchist ideals lived out.
A community where no one is in charge but all take responsibility for themselves and the world. Contemplation that fuels action that drives one back to contemplation. This is the life I am trying to cultivate for myself. And this is the life I hope to be able to embark upon in community.