During this Christmas season, we are invited to participate in the mystery of Christ’s coming, incarnating in the cosmos, in human history, and in our hearts, families, and communities. We watch, wait, and hope for signs of the Incarnation breaking into the darkness of our world fraught with seemingly intractable patterns of violence and devastation on a global scale. We are warmed by the intimate, humble images of childbirth, family, and human and divine fidelity; of God’s saving mercy alighting upon the human race in the most vulnerable and helpless form possible: that of an infant. And we are drawn to ask ourselves how we can perceive, receive, and respond to this newness of life that beckons us with such tenderness, no matter how impenetrable the darkness.
At Casa de Clara, we are making preparations for new beginnings of our own. Lisa and I have lived, prayed, and served at the Catholic Worker for two and a half years. We joined because we were attracted to what we saw as a vibrant, integrated life that not only served those on the margins, but brought us close to them, as close as the chair beside us at the dining room table each evening. We have been shaped by the daily disciplines of hospitality, voluntary simplicity, prayer and community, and have been blessed by innumerable friendships. Now, a new beginning calls us to take what we’ve received and live these values and practices in a new community: we have been invited to live and work at New Camaldoli Hermitage, a Camaldolese Benedictine monastery in Big Sur.
With hearts both sad to let go of what has been for us a wonderful, life-giving, and at times challenging community and way of life, and excited to embrace the new, we have said ‘yes’ to this new opportunity, which begins early February. Lisa will take charge of housekeeping for the monastery’s retreat facilities, and I will focus on writing and embark on what has been a dream of ours for some time: to build a tiny house on wheels. Nothing has instilled in us the precariousness of access to affordable, adequate housing than our time in San Jose, befriending and working with those left behind by a housing system that puts profits before human need. A tiny house will provide us with both housing security and mobility, and resonates with our commitment to voluntary simplicity.
At New Camaldoli, we will be steeped in the rhythms of monastic prayer, solitude, and the dramatic beauty of the coastal wilderness landscape. Through our deepening focus on contemplative prayer, we see ourselves as entering intimately into the human cry for salvation from all forms of sin, suffering, and injustice. In this sense, despite the obvious contrasts, we see ourselves in continuing solidarity with the work of Casa de Clara, as members of one body, participating in God’s reign even now, as we wait, watch, and hope for its fulfillment for all beings.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of you who have supported and befriended us along the way, and enabled us to live and serve at Casa de Clara. Of course, this also means new beginnings for the community, as we seek new resident volunteers and envision a new future. We hope and pray that this too may be a time of new birth and fresh creativity as Casa de Clara enters its 5th decade of service in downtown San Jose. If you or someone you know are interested in joining the Casa de Clara community, or would like to volunteer to help us maintain our ministries through this time of transition, we’d love to hear from you!
Please pray for us as we navigate these changes, as we pray that your hearts may be set aflame with the wonder, tenderness, and fresh possibilities of the season.
With Gratitude and Love,
Julian Washio-Collette, on behalf of the Catholic Worker community