Words can hardly do justice to the majestic grandeur of rolling mountains and unending forests visible from the chapel window at St. Mary's convent. If Sewanee is a magical place, St. Mary's is simply enchanted, and it was precisely this enchantment which attracted a group of six young Sewanee students to wake up at 7:00 AM Saturday morning of Spring Party Weekend to go drive into the radiant depths of St. Mary's vivacious verdure, gloves in hand ready to work on a garden. We first attended a charming morning prayer service replete with joyful songs, delightful instruments, and a full Communion. After the service and a homemade breakfast with the sisters and their various (adorable!) canine and feline friends, we went to the garden to see how we could help.
The garden could perhaps be better described as a small-scale farm with all kinds of vegetables, from kale to corn to cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, beets: you name it; they had it. So, after taking time to bless each plot individually, we began our work. Serene is the first word that comes to mind reflecting on the experience of digging rows for the corn and planting seeds while absorbing the pleasant warmth of the sun on our arms and neck. Friendly is the next word that comes to mind as we chatted with each other and with the sisters, all of us delighting in our efforts, knowing every scoop of worm castings and every drop of water would in some way contribute to the happiness of the sisters and the community at large with whom they intend to share much of the food. It was the beauty that attracted us initially, and the serenity and the friendliness that kept us happy and working hard. Combine that serenity and friendliness with the homemade food from homegrown ingredients, the playful dogs and cats, and the meaningful prayer services, and Ora et Labora (Prayer & Work) was nothing short of a vacation within the enchanted realm of St. Mary's convent. Personally, I am eager to be involved in what will undoubtedly be many future service trips from Sewanee.
- Peter Kennedy, C'13
*photos courtesy of Sister Madeleine Mary of St. Mary's Convent