Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

Monk in the World Guest Post: Jodi Blazek Gehr

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Jodi Blazek Gehr’s reflection on gratitude, wonder, and the sweet spot of life.

As a Benedictine Oblate of a monastic community about 90 minutes from home, driving the country roads of the Nebraska “Bohemian Alps” to St. Benedict Center has become part of my contemplative practice. Sometimes I drive in silence, curious about the old homes and barns that have fallen into disrepair, soaking in the beauty of the gentle, rolling hills, captured by the neat rows of corn and beans in sprawling fields and the tangerine-colored wildflowers blooming in deep ditches, the kind my grandma had.

Occasionally I stop at a roadside cemetery, long abandoned, with just a few family graves, or at a small-town church cemetery, marveling at the artistry of the cast iron metal crosses, unique to Czech communities, that serve as grave markers.

Whether I travel in silence or listen to an audiobook, a podcast, or some of my favorite music, I am grateful for this time and open to receiving what surprises my pilgrimage will reveal. Recently, on my way home from an oblate weekend of beautiful sunrises and special monk moments, I was listening to The Music Will Play On, a song written by Parker Palmer, one of my favorite writers and thinkers, and Carrie Newcomer, one of my favorite musicians. The song goes like this: 

No one knows for certain when their time will come, But life does not go silent once our dancing’s done. These harmonies will always call from beyond the years, The heavens dance forever to the music of the spheres.

If I could, I’d dance this way forever, But some soon day my dancing here will end. The music will play on, then one day I’ll be gone. I’ll dance into the darkness as new life dances in. Into the holy darkness where new life begins.

© 2020 by Carrie Newcomer and Parker J. Palmer ©2020 Carrie Newcomer Music (BMI), Administered by BMG Chrysalis

Indeed, our days are finite. We are inevitably “heading home to the music’s source.” As St. Benedict advises, “Keep death daily before your eyes.” Perhaps this sounds morbid, but this message encourages me to live each moment with wonder and gratitude.

These thoughts are with me as I turn onto a country road I haven’t driven in some time. The magic of technology cues up the next song, one I was unfamiliar with, yet enjoy. I search for more songs by this sweet-sounding folk singer-songwriter, Antje Duvekot. The lyrics bring the best surprise, the Sweet Spot. 

Once you stood below a mountain / Now you find yourself surprised / This is the sweet spot of your life

‘Cause this new view compares to nothing / Gone the hardship of your climb/ This is the sweet spot of your life. So you must hold these days like treasures in a jewel box in your heart. This is the sweet spot of your life / For you know well they are most precious / Into an old tree you must carve them. This is the sweet spot of your life.

Filled with gratitude for the moment, this song reminds me to continue to live my life with wonder, open to holy surprises. I continue on my journey home, celebrating the synchronicity of sauntering a country road, the sweet spot of my life, while listening to the holy surprise of just the right song at the right time.

At home, captured by memories and this new song, I read through my reflections from a 2019 retreat I attended led by Parker Palmer and Carrie Newcomer. We were asked to consider this question:

What makes you feel most alive? Are you getting enough of this in your life?

I wrote, “I feel alive when I have the time to wander, to saunter down a country road or a walking path, to look at details and various perspectives, to see things differently, anew, with wonder. To take photos, to discover something of beauty, to be surprised, makes me feel the most alive—to not have to watch the clock, to just spend time being and being aware.”

I am filled with gratitude for synchronicity, time to wander and wonder, the right song at the right time, artists who inspire, for Parker and Carrie, the wisdom of St. Benedict, the community of monks just a few hours north of home, country roads, cornfields, old houses and barns.

This is the sweet spot of my life.

More on WONDER, my 2023 Word of the Year HERE.

© Jodi Blazek Gehr, Being Benedictine Blogger

Jodi Blazek Gehr is a wife and mother, a Benedictine Oblate, a certified SoulCollage® and Boundless Compassion Facilitator. She is a high school business teacher and department chair certified in Business, Marketing, and Information Technology (6-12.) Her passion is writing for her website, Being Benedictine, and leading retreats in creativity and spirituality.

You might also enjoy

Summer Solstice Blessing

Summer Solstice Blessing*Radiant One,creator of the cosmosand the luminaries which light our way,bless this day of longest lightand the gift of the sunto bring warmth to our livesand abundance of growth,sweetness of blueberries,refreshment of lemons,nourishment of kaleand a thousand other kinds of food.We sing in

Read More »

Monk in the World Guest Post: Sharon Clymer Landis

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to our Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Sharon Clymer Landis’s reflection on the wisdom and love of a foster dog. I’m fostering a dog named Ladybug. She was caught

Read More »