FORT SMITH — This year, Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, celebrated her 60th year as a Benedictine sister and the publication of her ninth book, “The Flowing Grace of Now.”
In a 2000 article in Sisters Today, Sister Macrina described her writing as ministry.
“A writer cares deeply about life and wants to draw forth that care in others. The writer points us toward the joy and pain of being human, teaches us to find truth in blessing and adversities. He or she is captivated by the passionate flow and wants us to experience the grace that can be found in each moment.”
Her writing is honed through monastic life and her daily practice of Lectio Divina, a Benedictine way of reading, meditating and praying with Scripture.
She first discovered her love of writing as a child growing up on a farm in Altus.
“As a child, I wrote a lot from nature,” she told Arkansas Catholic. “I started writing, and that brought me close to God as well. The outside was kind of like a cathedral for me, and my mom always said if she couldn’t find me she’d go out and look for me by a tree.”
Her family, including three brothers and four sisters, said the rosary each night around a pot-bellied stove. One older brother had preceded her into religious life, but when she entered St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith after high school, her father was surprised.
“My father wrote poems when each of us left home. I was the youngest surviving child, the last one to leave home, and he wrote that I was acrobatic and full of jokes and fun and I was going to be a nun.”
After Sister Macrina made her religious profession, she went on a series of teaching assignments while pursuing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the summers. She began writing her first book, “Seasons of the Heart,” while teaching in Ada, Okla., in the 1990s.
“I wrote most of ‘Seasons’ sitting under a tree. Now with computers I miss doing all my writing outside. The last step of Lectio Divina is journaling, and that’s where I really became a writer,” Sister Macrina said. “In Lectio, you keep vigil with the Word of God and listen silently, but out of that I began to see patterns emerging and gained insights.”
After taking a break for more than a decade, her new book, “The Flowing Grace of Now,” published by Sorin Books, was the result of journaling.
“I took my living faith meditations and edited them extensively and selected 52 Scripture passages, one for each week of the year, assigning a teacher for each one,” Sister Macrina said. “A teacher might be a biblical character, but it might also be an attribute or virtue. We can find teachers everywhere, but there’s also a teacher hidden within us, and we need to sit down and listen.”
She hopes groups of friends might choose to pray through the book together, staying with the same Scripture passage and teacher — ordinary person or events — for a whole week.
Sister Macrina will lead a retreat based on her new book at the Trinity Center Oct. 18-20. She will sign books at Bookish in Fort Smith, Saturday, Oct. 12, at 2 p.m.
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