Thursday, May 13, 2010
The cave pictured here is a shrine of St. Benedict on our monastery grounds. The season of spring gave the shrine a special charm this year as Benedict seemed to be walled in by Forsythia. If you are going to spend your life in a cave, that is a mighty nice door. I have been meditating on Benedict’s life in the cave of Subiaco, Italy for some time now, meaning that I am still trying to discern how to be who I say I am, a monastic, a Benedictine. My personal prayer, these days, has been almost entirely given over to praying the rule in light of my own faithfulness to it. Sometimes I find it helpful to remain with a specific theme for a long time.
The two themes that have chosen me recently are simplicity and silence. I had no intention of choosing either of these topics when I begin to listen to Benedict in the rule (and in the cave); but they chose me. Simplicity chose me first so I will dwell on that. Living a life of simplicity does not necessarily mean living a life of destitution. Recently simplicity has asked me to be obedient to the things, people, events that surround me rather than looking for my needs/wants in a thousand other places. And so I am trying to attend what is nearby. I am trying to be more aware. I am looking with the eyes of my soul; but it is still difficult especially when it comes to people: fellow monks, sister monks. Whatever! --meaning of course, my monastic community! A quote from a spiritual letter from the early 20th century nourished me today. I eat anything I can find these days, as long as it is nearby. I did not go out and buy this book. I didn’t even go to the city library. It just sort of fell on top of me. Ah, it chose me!
“I charge you to release yourselves from the last strain
of materialism for then only are you protected; I charge
you to be forgiving and patient with all persons whether
they be stupid, melancholy or evil and to keep your
face always uplifted to the highest intent, for this,
above all, releases your life from all violence;
I charge you to live in faith, for this will give you
a splendor, a light which will be manifest to all the
bewildered, the lonely, the harassed—a beacon in
the storm. Stand to your full stature, for I bear witness
that eternal love can be reached.”
-Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood
Well! For someone who lives in community that sounds like a sweet challenge. And so I will give it an honest try. I really do believe that we are found by grace each day. I intend to practice noticing being found. ...more later!