“What is beauty?” and “In our life, what strikes you as beautiful?” These were the questions proposed by the Mother Abbess to the youngest members of the Poor Clare community in Roswell, New Mexico, for a special video presentation.
Wanting to benefit from the insights of all, they in turn invited each of the sisters to reflect upon the nature of beauty and the expressions of the beautiful found within our monastic enclosure. “God is Beauty,” all agreed, “and He both reveals and conceals that beauty in the glimpses of Himself that we are blessed to perceive this side of heaven.” And, in a particular way, “Beauty is Jesus Christ.”After the expression of these most essential realities of their Poor Clare life, a pattern emerged in the wide range of responses which allowed the nuns to categorize insights and suggested images under the headings of: – Beauty in the Liturgy – Beauty in their Customs – Becoming Whole – Beauty Perceived by the Senses – Beauty in their Bridal Covenant with Jesus Then began a two-month long enterprise of translating a little portion of those large possibilities expressive of beauty into a concrete form genuinely reflective of their Poor Clare life. Evening recreations in the novitiate were often spent gathered around the common room table, discussing, planning, selecting. A small video camera donated by the younger old sister of their postulant was the first piece of equipment, supplemented by the seven and a half minutes of video-capacity on the community’s camera, with both together eventually producing hundreds of video and sound clips of their daily life and observance. An adjustable music stand (already doubling as the Mass lectern) was called into service as a make-shift tripod. And, finally, a bargain sale purchase by one of their families at an eBay store enhanced the capacities of a donated laptop to include a suitable movie-making program, a critical component for coalescing the final selection of 253 pieces of image and sound into one united whole. Filming and editing, stabilizing and refining, each of the novitiate members and their mistress contributed according to their particular areas of proficiency, with all of them coming together on a daily basis for consensus as they worked through each category for presentation. The video in itself is one of the most beautiful aspects of their shared vocation – that every one of the sisters and all of them together were needed to create, maintain and foster beauty in their Poor Clare life. To view the video click here.