Be strong and let your heart take courage, *
all you who wait for the Lord.
This very obedience, however, will be acceptable to God and agreeable to people only if compliance with what is commanded is not cringing or sluggish, or halfhearted...
Benedict's Rule 5:14 (Chittister, Pg. 71)
...you must want it.So here I am faced, for the second day in a row, with the concept of "obedience". A word I would like to avoid at times. I find myself in a dilemma. After 23 days I am finally getting comfortable with my personal daily prayer habit: In the morning I read the psalms appointed for morning prayer from the Episcopal Church prayer book, the daily portion of the Rule of Benedict, from The Rule of Benedict, A Spirituality for the 21st Century, by Sister Joan Chittister, followed by Joan Chittister's reflection on that portion of the Rule. In the evening I read the psalms appointed for evening prayer in the prayer book. To put a bit of structure in the morning I read the psalms and from Joan Chittister's book in the spirit of Lectio Divina, with my journal with me so I can pick a key passage from each portion of my reading. (And as I write this blog I start by putting down the "key passages" that struck me during my reading as the quotes for the blog.)
Chittister, Pg. 72
This provides a way to share a few thoughts, usually, as you have seen, no more than a paragraph or two. And as the activity starts in the style of Lectio there is little day-to-day connection between the different blog postings.
But today I am faced with a dilemma. The places I go, having re-instituted a habit of reading and reflection that was a part of me for a number of years before I became "too busy" over the last year, are not always the places that make sense to share at the start of a journey. Today my mind was struck both with the psalm verse I quoted above, but also with "For my life is wasted with grief / and my years with sighing" (psalm 31, verse 10). Distinctly not uplifting as we (those of us considering The Community of Hope at St. George's) wrestle to discern our call.
My dilemma illustrates exactly where I am: I want to be obedient. I desire to do what I am commanded without cringing, being sluggish, or being halfhearted. I want to paint a picture of bright acceptance of God's call in this (potential) ministry and the rest of my life. My (mini) redemption is illustrated as the psalmist says in other places in Psalm 31, not only "Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble / my eye is consumed with sorrow" (vs. 9), but "In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge..." (vs. 1).
I will end with a Prayer:
Lord grant that I, and the others in this adventure with me, may not only glory in the wonder of accomplishment, but not shy away from our questions and misunderstanding of what you can give us. May we all grow in our comfort of Your presence so we can bring that comfort to others. Amen.
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.
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