I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Sherri Hansen's reflections about her Benedictine bracelet:
I’ve been a Benedictine oblate for five years which has been the most profoundly grounding practice to me spiritually. Oblates, for those who may not be familiar with them, are drawn to the 1500 year Rule of St. Benedict and strive to live out its principles of obedience, stability, and conversion of faith in their daily modern lives. Other core values include hospitality and balance in work and prayer life. It is relatively easy to honor these sacred principles while immersed in the daily contemplative life of a monastery, but it becomes much more difficult while out in the busy, hurried world we live in. The challenge becomes to take time out to be with God, and practice stillness while faced with work deadlines, traffic jams, family demands, and the unpredictable needs that direct our attention away from being present in each moment and with God.
Last spring, I came across a bracelet created by the company, “My Saint, My Hero.” It is a corded bracelet that features tiny metal beads imprinted with the medal of St. Benedict. I was drawn to it as a way to remind me of my spiritual practices each day. I purchased it, put it on and haven’t taken it off since.
Despite the minute size, the medal is rich with detailed symbolism. The front of the medal shows St. Benedict holding his rule in his left hand and the cross in his right. Encircling it are the Latin words “Eius in obit nester presenter muniamur” (May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!).
On the back, Benedict’s cross is inscribed with the first letters of a rhyming Latin prayer “Crus sacra sit mihi lux! Noncom draco sit mini dux” (May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!). The letters C S P B in the angles of the cross stand for “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” (The cross of our holy father Benedict). At the top is the Latin word for peace “Pax,” and around the perimeter the letters V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B, which are the first letters in the words of an ancient Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan and evil. I don’t wear it however as a magical charm for spiritual protection, good luck, or good health.
For me, the bracelet is a constant reminder of who I am and gently reminds me of my values and the Rule that I have studied and strive to live out on a daily basis. I am reminded to take time to complete one task or thought before starting another. I am reminded to be as present as I can in everything I do, from the most simple, mundane tasks of washing dishes, or paying bills, shoveling unending piles of snow in Wisconsin, to weeding and digging vegetables in my garden.
In my profession of a psychiatrist, I am reminded to practice patience and see the face of Christ in every patient I see, no matter how difficult and challenging. I have found myself fingering the metal imprints on the bracelet while sitting with a patient several times reminding me to pause and reflect before speaking or reacting quickly. I see the metal gleam the medals on my wrist as my hands move across my piano keyboard and I am reminded how my music is a prayer to God. I feel the bracelet’s nylon cords with the beaded ends gently brush across my wrist as I do a forward fold on my yoga mat and am reminded again and again to gently exhale. Every action then becomes a silent prayer and an offering.
The bracelet has held up well to showers, sweat, swimming, and clothing snags. Knowing the impermanence of things, I suspect that time and elements will eventually wear the nylon cord away. I hope though, by then, the values will be ingrained upon my heart and soul.
Sherri Hansen, MD, OblSB, is a psychiatrist in private practice, a Benedictine Oblate, a church musician and composer, and a yoga instructor and passionate gardener in Madison, Wisconsin. To learn more about Sherri and her music visit: www.sherrihansencomposer.com