My BenchI am still mulling around with yesterday morning’s first reading for Eucharist: It was about the community of believers in the early church being of one heart and mind, no one claiming exclusive rights to possession but holding all in common. I stared at those words for a long time yesterday and I am still contemplating them today.
I suppose this is what we are to do in our monastic community but oh, my, the purity of the original concept is surely lost if it ever was a true reality. Perhaps it is just an ideal and there is nothing wrong with having ideals as long as we make some kind of progress in transforming them into reality. It occurs to me that I often show more faithfulness in caring for a possession when it is mine (whatever that means) When it belongs to everybody there is the temptation to think the next person who uses it will take care of it properly.
And how easy it is to claim ownership of things, even when you live in a monastery. I go for an evening walk and discover someone sitting on my bench. Imagine! I sit here at this time every evening and now there is someone else sitting in my space. After all, I’m the one who has been cleaning off the bird poop. I’m the one who has been offering hospitality to that particular bench and now someone else is there usurping the atmosphere that I have made sacred.
Well, you get the drift. It is so easy to claim things as my own. I could, instead, make a choice to gaze at the person on my bench and be glad that I blessed the space for them before they arrived--and now they are blessing it even more with their presence. I especially like the idea of offering hospitality to the things we share in common...and perhaps becoming aware of how all these things serve our needs.
The next time you find an empty bench, please consider sitting there for awhile, asking that we become enlightened as to how we might become "one mind and heart." And while you are there perhaps you will be overcome with gratitude that there are so many things we get to share in common. Then leave the place a little nicer than you found it even if the last person forgot to do that.