I had a neat piece of news today. I'm back in soggy Nelson: indeed, today it was raining so hard that it was hard to make myself heard to my trainees at times! Nelson is supposed to be one of New Zealand's sunniest cities and the locals assure me that rain is quite unusual here, but after the last few trips I've had here I'm tempted to think they may be telling me stories!
Anyway, back to the news. I picked up my email from my motel and found a message from one of the Community Guardians, telling me that the Community of Solitude has accepted me for solemn profession. This is seriously wonderful news: it means that I make my final life vows as a Benedictine sometime this year. I can't tell you how happy I am about this. When I transferred my profession from TSSF last year, I was accepted as what the Community calls "provisional profession" - a religious "in transit", as it were, as COS and I explored together whether my vocation was truly to the Benedictine way of life and, particularly, the expression of Benedictine Camadolese life as practiced by COS. Now, they want to make it permanent. And so do I.
Benedictine life is different from Franciscan life. This may seem hard to believe, and for a while I didn't really understand how the charism was different either. However, I’m slowly coming to understand that Benedictines are about balance: in fact, being an Anglican and a Benedictine makes perfect sense. Anglicans are traditionally known for the via media, the middle way, the balance between Protestantism and Catholicism, and drawing the best of both. Benedictines are about balance, stability, courage, love, living the way in the little things. Faithfulness in the small things of life. But it’s not a rigid “middleness” – it’s a gentle reactivity of love – love in all things.
It is the right place for me, and I’m so happy: not the kind of happiness that makes me feel all bouncy and loud and frothy, but the kind of happiness that is more closely akin to joy, deep inside. Sparkle. Light. Love.