Inner Work

by Tim Oberholzer, Spirit Center Interim Manager

A blue and gray boom lift sat on the Monastery of St. Gertrude’s front lawn for much of December. Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC companies’ trucks parade up the driveway regularly. Hammers and power tools fill the air with a construction song daily. Only the keen observer will notice any exterior effects of these labors. The Monastery Residential Wing Renovation project, after all, focuses on transforming the interior of the building. The sisters recognized practical issues with their residence, defined tangible goals for the future, and undertook this remodel project to transform the 73-year-old Annex into a functional, safe, and vibrant center of Benedictine life for the future.

What is the state of your interior right now? Could your soul benefit from a remodel project? An honest assessment of the current conditions and a deep commitment to the future of monastic life precipitated the work of remodeling St. Gertrude’s. The spiritual life is no different. Inner work requires an honest assessment of the present situation, a strong desire for a future reality, and a deep commitment to the work of moving from the present to the future. 

Philosophers define humility as the virtuous middle between the two extremes of an over-valuing self-pride and an under-valuing self-contempt. Humility emerges from a gentle, non-judgmental ability to see oneself as beautiful, broken, complete, longing, beloved, lonely, free, limited, and a holy mix of contradictions. The sisters beheld their beloved home filled with lifetimes of intentional living and recognized an outdated, inefficient, and unsafe building. They accepted this tension with care and creativity. When you sit alone in a room, can you see your truth and accept the tensions within you? Can you strip away labels like essential, non-essential, Democrat, Republican, or at-risk? Can you rest humbly in self-truth? 

The journey to the humble ground requires the ability to see the divine in the natural, the holy in the ordinary, the whole in the pieces. God sees us as we are and calls us to be who God created. As only you are and only you can ever be! The challenge: to see as God sees. God’s vision sheds divine light, marks your heart’s pure ground, and invites you back to the garden shameless. The Rule of St. Benedict gives vision to the Monastery of St. Gertrude. What helps you see with God’s eyes?

The process often feels like a carnival game. We fall short or overshoot. We hit the bulls-eye but bounce off. We chase our tail. God’s creativity never ends yet we seek a finished product. The sisters’ commitment exceeds their building and incarnates a vibrant life and ministry that began in 1882. The remodel of the Monastery’s interior makes new forms of monastic life possible. What will your soul work make possible? 

Inner work transports the soul from present realities to future holy wholeness on a path of seeing humbly and dreaming divinely. Spirit Center understands this ongoing labor. Our team ponders the present challenges to ministry, revisits our mission, and collaborates on future projects to empower you to be who God created you to be. We look forward to opening our doors again, welcoming you as you are, helping you see with divine eyes, and sending you on your way transformed to transform the world.

Tim Oberholzer is currently the Interim Manager of Spirit Center and a novice spiritual director. Tim came to the Monastery of St. Gertrude in December of 2018 as the full-time innkeeper at the Inn at St. Gertrude’s. He transitioned to Spirit Center as the Hosted Groups Coordinator in the summer of 2019. In the summer of 2020, he was named Spirit Center’s interim manager. Tim spent five and a half years as a monk at New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa, before discerning out of monastic life and moving to Idaho to be closer to his parents. He earned a business degree from the University of Notre Dame, studied philosophy and theology at the University of St. Thomas, and currently participates in the Stewards of the Mystery spiritual direction training program. Tim is a remarried widower, an ultramarathon runner, and an avid reader.