On July 4, 2020, Independence Day, I went for a walk very early in the morning on the grounds behind the Monastery. I noticed an animal moving around in the net of the soccer field goal. I came closer and found that it was an owl, looking very helpless and scared, seeing no end to its miserable entanglement (or “not seeing”, as owls are nocturnal animals). As I tried to see the best way to free it, I could only focus on those big yellow eyes watching my every move as its head turned what seemed to be 360 degrees, the beak crying out in disapproval of my presence, those amazing wings flapping in fear, and unpredictable claws giving no sign of my invitation for this encounter. Eventually, I realized that I could not attempt this alone. So, I ran back to the Monastery, called security, and then met up with Sr. Teri Spinler, who came to help as well.
The three of us—coming from different working backgrounds—attempted to engage with this animal and to free it. It took Greg Barcelona, a security guard, to gently secure the animal; Sr. Teri, a nurse, to slowly remove the net from around the owl’s body; and me, an architect, to make sure every perspective was looked at from above as we slowly cut the net in and around this beautiful creature. Our work was collaboration at its best. It took a good 45 minutes for us to free the owl from the net. Once it was free, we all felt an awesome relief to see it fly away with those huge, liberated wings.
This was a special encounter to have happened on the same day we were celebrating our nation’s independence. It brought to mind the energy that it took for our forefathers and mothers to liberate our country from powerful foes and entanglements. It reminded me of the need to release ourselves today from Covid 19 predicaments, even if we can’t see this virus. And this wondrous encounter with the trapped owl led me to reflect on the political entanglements that still stop us from collaborating to resolve our nation’s woes, especially our country’s history of racism in all its forms.
The Rule of St. Benedict teaches us the work we have to do to deliver ourselves from our own entanglements within our minds and hearts. Today, we do have the tools to liberate ourselves—physically, psychologically and spiritually. We just have to decide to learn from this wisdom and to do it. We can come together to live and work in collaboration for freedom. We all have that choice.
Sister Luce Marie Dionne, OSB, RA, NCARB is a licensed Architect, immersed in Scripture, the Rule of St. Benedict, Ecumenical and Interfaith dialogue, and Sustainability for the Planet.