Monastic life chapter talk 2/12/22
The monastery for me, as I age, and the decades pile up is actually a haunted place. Sometimes when I am at lunch, or in church, or like now, at a community meeting, I will look around the room and see only four monks who were members when I entered in 1971. At that time, we were a very large community. When I came for the first time in November of 1968, there were actually 75 monks. Then in 1970, when I came again for two weeks, the number was down to 70. So chapter was a crowded affair, as well as was lunch, and of course, praying in the choir. I was 22 and the youngest member of the community for a few years.
I also had the privilege of working in the infirmary. So I guess I walked the final mile with most of those monks who were my seniors. Each room in our infirmary was a ‘death room’ over the years. So as I work up there again, there are times when I relive events and circumstances that happened there. Many very humorous, and others, painful, and a very few, tragic.
Sometimes when I think about how things have changed it makes me aware of how short our lives are, and also, how precious. We do not have a great deal of time, for now, that I am 73, it is like I just arrived here a short time ago, although it is going on 51 years now. You can’t stop the flow of sand that falls through our fingers, nothing can be held on to.
I can make a lot of fuss about my life here. Some days are good, others horrible, most are just living out my vocation without a great deal of emotion or struggle. Yes, there are a lot of grey days in any human life. Yet each day passes, and most of them or consigned to oblivion. Where they are filed I have no idea. So what is the fuss all about?
Each moment comes by once. Any interaction we have with one another is unique, and will never happen again. So I would think it is important how we do actually relate to one another. When working with grace, when our relationship with Christ Jesus is deep, intimate, and trusting, then over the years it is normal to begin to see the mystery of others, and their holiness, because they are made in the image, and likeness, of God. Hopefully, as we age in our vocation this growth becomes steady, otherwise, the outcome is not pretty.
There is always some sort of struggle in our lives, and the greatest one can also be the hardest. Which is to allow Christ Jesus to become ‘us’. To allow ourselves to be Christ's hands, feet, and yes, heart. To put on the Mind-Of-Christ. I would say I am still far from that reality, but I trust that Christ will finish the work he has begun in me, as well as the work he has begun in all of us.-Br.MD