Thursday, August 13, 2009

Winding Up

I leave Holy Cross tomorrow. It hardly seems like I've been here for more than a week or two. Probably the two side-trips I took (to NYC and to North Carolina) contribute to that sense the time here has been brief.

In the first few days when I arrived we had a community meeting to talk about what I wanted to accomplish viz. the website. I've actually managed to do most of that, though plenty still remains. Notably:
  1. Redo the Order's website
  2. Set up a Content Management System
  3. Establish a social networking tool for Associates
  4. Add videos to the website

I've made progress on each of those, but they are daunting tasks. Setting up a content management system, for example, has turned into building my own from scratch in PHP (a programming language). So first I had to learn PHP! Progress in developing the tool with which Holy Cross monks will be able to edit data online is steady but tedious.

Producing a series of videos is another example. I've interviewed almost all the monks and a few friends and Residents. There are only a few left to do today and tomorrow. That means about 12 hours worth of interviews in the can. Then consider that I taped all these interviews with two cameras (for two different angles) and used my digital audio recorder as back-up--so that's a total of 24 hour of interview footage, plus another hour of B-roll, plus about 10 hours worth of footage of liturgies. When I get back to Toronto I should easily have enough for six or seven 12-15 minute videos! Yikes!

But when I first sat down with the monks I was aware that it would be unlikely that I would complete everything on the wish list during my stay. It gives me something to do when I get home, I suppose. And in truth, most good websites keep evolving, anyway. The only way it would have been possible for to have completed everything on the list would have been a death-march like effort that would have left me exhausted and haggard when I should be feeling relaxed and inspired from my time here.

So do I feel relaxed and inspired? Yes, I do believe I am. In a few minutes I'm saying Mass in the chapel. I'm looking forward to that. Then I have an interview to do. I'm also hoping to complete my amplifier today. Yesterday I spent about five hours working the wood to create the enclosure. Because the workshop here is very hit-or-miss when it comes to even basic tools, I had to do a lot of improvising. Even simple tasks like cutting a straight line with a table saw was made difficult! So today I should be able to stain the wood and then, hopefully, do final assembly.

There is a saying that the benefits of retreat are gained in the last few minutes before it ends. Certainly this last week or two I've felt very much at home here. I think "the house" and I have re-established our relationship on new terms. There was nothing wrong with the old terms of that relationship, except that they were old and therefore in need of renewal. The benedictines say, "And always we begin again." I've had to build up relationship with some new people and refresh other relationships that I've had for many years. So it goes.

One of the Brothers asked me when I'm coming back. As it turns out, I'll be back in September with my confirmation group. That will be only a weekend, but it will be great, I'm sure. After that, who knows. The baby will determine a lot of my schedule come December.

So tomorrow I'll pack up. But today there is still a lot of work to do!


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