Driving Br. Justin
(Justin on to right-hand corner)
(Justin on to right-hand corner)
(Br. Justin top right)
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
I was asked to drive Br. Justin into town for an eye appointment on Friday. It was in Duluth, a town that is about 45 minutes away from the Monastery. His appointment was at 11:20, so while there was a lot of traffic, there were no delays. Interstate all the way, and Kaiser, the establishment we were going to is right of interstate 85.
I enjoy driving Br. Justin. He is from Nigeria, a little younger than me, and has been in Monastic life since 1971. He has been with us a few years, and is now a member of our community. Something for which I am very thankful. I find hem to be very unique, in a world of very interesting people. He truly loves his vocation and is a man of very deep prayer. I find him an encouragement in my own monastic journey and have told him this.
Now that I am older, even though I am still very much the clown when around people, I am less proficient at small talk than when younger. I also find that I cannot listen to music as much as I used to do when younger. Not that my taste is all that great. I also have grown tired of trying to listen to the talking heads on the radio, so as I age, I like the silence when driving. One of the beautiful experience when with Br. Justin, is the level of his silence, and the prayer that implies. He is relaxed, just sitting and being in the presence of God. Seeing him praying, is like I said, an encouragement for me to deepen my own relationship with the Lord.
I get into the trap sometimes that I have to always be reading. Justin just prays. As I age I am beginning to understand. In my twenties I was into finding out answers to the mysteries of life, so I read a lot of philosophy, as well as theology, which was helpful at that time in my life, and still is, but my need for it lessens. Now I am into seeking to deepen my love for God, to simply be, and to allow grace, to soften my hard, fearful, heart. Which by God’s grace is happening. Though I still wrestle with God. I am not always sure what I am about. Yet God seems to always be seeking me, more than I do Him……grace another mystery, that I do not need to figure out.
Br. Justin has a genuine smile, and is always ready to talk, but is just as happy if there is none. So the drive was very peaceful and prayerful for both of us. I guess we have both been on a long journey, the human journey, a common journey, yet lived in a Monastery. All human beings are very deep, complex, and beautiful beings made in the image of God. Some do not know this, but it does not take too much to see the light within them, even if dimmed by life’s often extreme traumas.
I drive others and enjoy all of them. Some talk more, others less, but all are men of prayer, just different personalities and back grounds, some have past that are rougher than others.
Sometimes I am very aware of the monks who have passed deeper into the Body-Of-Christ. When I think of them, I miss them all, but there are those with whom I was closer to, yet we are eternally bound by our vows I believe, and will always be together as a community in some way.
Fr. James is still very much on my mind, as well as family members that have passed on. I remember often Janna, my sister’s daughter, and Sharlene's daughter Denise, Skip’s first wife, who both died way too young. I am learning to enjoy those I am with, and try to not take them for granted, which is not as easy as it seems.
So when I was with Br. Justin, I did really enjoy his loving, calm, and centered presence. Yet I also know that there are depths to him known only to God, with all that implies. It is our commonality of experience that allows us to be able to understand each other some-what, but not all-what.
The connection that I have with those I know, is, in reality, the same that I have with all of humanity, and that is what Christ Jesus, the Body-Of-Christ, is all about, that in each, we experience ‘Him’. As St. Paul said:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. (Gal 2:20)
Until that is understood by me, and I guess by all of mankind, we will continue being sources of pain and suffering for each other, not knowing that it is Christ Jesus that we wound. Self-Love, as Jesus meant it is not easy, but does actually take a death to self.
May we in this New Year, learn that more deeply, and consciously seek to live that out.—Br.MD