What is the Organic Prayer Project?

Mon, 08 Aug 2016 12:51:00 CDT  — by: Eileen Schaeffer, C'13

DSC00747On a sizeable leap of faith and armed with a stockpile of passion, Nathan Bourne (C ’11) and myself (Eileen, C’13) have dedicated our year to the formation of the Organic Prayer Project. This is the first year of our intentional living experiment, and we hope that one day it will culminate itself into a properly funded and supported internship program.

Our purpose this year is simple: to live a balanced life, wholesome and holy, rooted in the agrarian lifestyle and structured around the Benedictine model of work and prayer (“ora y labora”). We live in a small cottage on the grounds of St. Mary’s Convent in Sewanee, TN and attend morning and evening prayer with the close-knit sisterly community almost every day- this forms the bulk of our prayer life, apart from personal meditation and weekly spiritual direction from supportive community members, such as Rev. Rob MacSwain, Sr. Madeleine Mary, and Michael Trent Thompson. The focus of our labor is in the garden. We have split up our work days between tending the sister’s garden plot and kitchen environment and also helping out at the University Farm, under the strong and compassionate leadership of Gina Raicovich, the Farm Manager. We are also working with Thistle Farms in Nashville to mold the community of St. Mary’s into an economic engine for this commendable social enterprise.

The Organic Prayer Project sees no shortage of work to be done- which is a working struggle for two people trying to slow down the rapid pace of life and reclaim a balanced structure of rest, prayer, study, and labor. The unifying element to all of our duties is earthly stewardship. When we slow down, work outside all day and then happily eat the fruits of our labor, both literally and figuratively, our entire life becomes a prayer. This is the lifestyle we are striving for, and the Organic Prayer Project is giving us the tools to achieve that goal.


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