Saturday, January 17, 2015

Jan 17 - Surrounded And Supported

Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, *
But we will call upon the Name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 20:7
In the monastery, monastics are not to follow their own heart's desire, nor shall they presume to contend with the prioress or abbot defiantly, or outside the monastery.
Benedict's Rule 3:8-9 (Chittister, Pg 54)
Benedictine monasticism is life lived within the circuit of four guy wires: the gospel, the teachings of its abbots and prioresses, the experience of the community, and the Rule of Benedict itself.
Chittister, Pg 54
We are called to put our trust in God, letting go of chariots, horses, defiance, even asked to let go of our "own heart's desire." So how do we follow God? Sister Joan talks of four guy wires. On the next page (55) she rephrases these four concepts, speaking more clearly to us that are not in a monastery:

"Each of us, monastic or not, deals with the same elements in life. We are all:

  1. bound to the gospel
  2. under leadership of some kind
  3. faced with the dictates of tradition or the cautions of experience
  4. in need of a direction"

This speaks to me in my every day life. When I am pulled in different directions (tempted to sin, perhaps?) or confused about a decision, or enjoying a great day in the warmth of God's care and creation I come back around these guides that originated long before me, and, with God's grace, will continue long after I am gone.

I also see where we, as our instance of the wider Community of Hope forms and grows, can use these four guy wires. As we meet for the first time we will have many questions. Each of us will have many thoughts of how to navigate this path forward, some of us will wish to move faster than the prescribed course moves us (while others, of course, may wish to go slower...) As we continue meeting we will learn much, and as we move from a collection of individuals to an integrated community, we will build our own leadership and experience so we can reach out to others. We will add our group's experience to the tradition and experience that has come before us.

A Note To Anyone Reading:

This entry is part of a series that is developing as I read The Rule of Benedict, A Spirituality for the 21st Century, Joan Chittister, Crossroads, 2010. I am offering this both to those at St. George's Episcopal Church, Arlington VA, that may be reading Ms. Chittister's book and to anyone that is interested.

Unless stated otherwise quotes from St. Benedict's Rule from the translation in this same book.
Psalms are from The Book of Common Prayer, The Episcopal Church, 1979 unless otherwise noted.

Comments are welcome, and encouraged, please use the blog comment feature.

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