O Lord my God, I cried to you: and you have made me whole. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life. (Psalm 30:2-3)
Neither the Benedictine community as a whole nor its individual members are expected to be working feverishly… Instead there is contentment with the familiar, the ordinary, the monotonous… It is insisting on the acceptance of each element in the person, each member of the community, each activity of the day as valuable and significant in its own right… A vision of relatedness binds the parts together into the harmonious whole… The monk moves between praying and studying and working with his hands, going in turn from chapel to library to kitchen to farm…
When this happens to me I merely tend to feel that my life is marked by interruptions and I grumble and accept it with a bad grace. I feel disorganized and distracted as I am torn between family and job and leisure and the demands of the local community and the organizations which claim my membership, exhausted with travel and rush, with putting down one thing and picking up the next. Can I possibly, in the context of the understanding of the Rule, try to recognize that each of these elements plays a positive part in my life? That each is good? That with perhaps just a small amount more of space, of attention, above all of total attentiveness, to the demands of the moment, they might be able to feed and not to drain me? It would be quite ridiculous to pretend that this could be in any way comparable to the simple life which St Benedict is describing. But still I may find here something important to learn from an approach which insists that a holding in tension of varying activity can play an essential part in a pattern of positive, creative living. Ω
Reflect: Tell God about the demands on you. Ask God to show you how these elements form an integrated whole; resolve to be attentive to God’s presence in each moment and activity.
What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of intense reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent.
From Esther de Waal, Seeking God. The Way of St Benedict. London: HarperCollinsReligious, 1984 and 1996, p 75-76. #Lent2021. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent, Sanctuary, 2021. Image credit: Rachel Coyne on Unsplash.
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