Never was this prayer said at the end of Compline more true Monday, October 29, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy made landfall and the winds pounded and shook our monastery with lightning flashing and the rain falling.
As Sisters kept their hours of adoration and rosary and as we prayed Compline the walls shook and we could here debris falling and banging on the roof below the chapel and choir windows. It seemed as if any minute something would come flying in. But our Angels were protecting us and nothing did. The next day we found that the what we were hearing was the slates falling off the chapel roof!
We lost power around 10PM Monday night and immediately everyone took advantage of the emergency lights and began setting up candles in the choir, refectory, halls, etc. Our monastery is built in such a way that it is very dark without lights and the kitchen is especially a challenge. The cooks were amazing, though, and everything worked like clockwork (battery operated, that is) having learned many tricks from last year’s storm!
Unlike many, many people in our area we came out of the storm relatively fine. Eight large pine trees were uprooted, four of these along the enclosure wall on the northeast side but thankfully, they fell IN the enclosure and not OUT onto the wall and the street. One tree did fall on a line and as of now it is still there. The tree near St. Dominic’s garden that half survived last year’s storm came down in this storm as we all expected.
We’ve spent the last 2 days cleaning out the refrigerators and freezers, creating a makeshift frig on the cloister, trying to preserve what we could and cooking up anything that wouldn’t keep. Meanwhile, people were stopping by with the contents of their refrigerators! We’re going to be eating hard boiled eggs for a while! And yes, we ate most of the ice cream!
Although we use electricity for so many things, for us, what we noticed the most was not having light. The antiphons and prayers of Lauds became especially poignant and Christ as our True Light took on an new and more intense meaning. We reflected too, on what it means for us to be light to the world. Our constitutions tell us that a Dominican monastery is to be a “radiant center of charity”. One of the most-loved invocations to our Father, St. Dominic is one that we sing every night after the Salve at Compline: O Lumen Ecclesia, O Light of the Church!
We were without power until around 1AM this morning! A big thank you to all the crews of JCP&L for their hard work! We know that many of our neighbors are still without power and that there are many downed trees in Summit and many homes damaged. We are with everyone in prayer, praying for them and for so many who are helping restore normal life in the area.