Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau – Early Thoughts of a Newly-Minted Novice

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Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau – Early Thoughts of a Newly-Minted Novice

Only two weeks into my one-year canonical novitiate I am already experiencing a mild form of cabin-fever.  Or perhaps I am anticipating it.  One of my great joys in life is visiting new places, discovering new things, and observing nature.  I have only been in Duluth since January, so almost every week I like to go out and drive around a new area, discover a neighborhood, walk in a new park, or go hiking in a yet unexplored state park. 

Running Waters
Temperance River State Park, near Schroeder, MN - photo by Sister Paule Pierre
However I now find myself in a situation which we jokingly refer to as the “Holy Lockdown.”  During the year of the canonical novitiate, I am to remain on Monastery grounds unless, of course, I need to go out for some appropriate business, like a medical appointment or getting my hair cut. 
Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow on Marsh Trail at St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, MN - photo by Sister Paule Pierre
So what is this time of “confinement” about?  Well, it is not about being held against one’s wishes, or being miserable.  Rather, it is about calming the restlessness within, and about finding one’s center in God rather than in externals.  So I feel the “itch” to go walking “out there.”  Why not walk “right here” for a while?  The same deer and birds inhabit the acres of forest behind our Monastery as the grounds of the neighboring state parks!  A similar peace can be found here as well, I’m sure. 
Young male deer
Deer on Western Waterfront Trail, Duluth, MN - photo by Sister Paule Pierre
And that’s the idea.  Peace is to be found where I am, not to be sought somewhere else.  So if I accept God’s grace this year in accepting that everything I need is right here where I am, and even more so, within me, because that is where I commune most profoundly with God, then next year, when I can go in search of new trails for my hikes again, I will be seeking beauty for beauty’s sake, and not because it’s “out there.” 


Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau

Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau is a novice at Saint Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota.Originally from Quebec, Canada, she lived in the Southeastern United States for 16 years beforecoming to Duluth. She did research in the field of exercise physiology for over years, and morerecently completed a graduate degree in theology, while volunteering in parishes, giving workshopsand retreats.


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“And let them first pray together, that so they may associate in peace.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict