10 August 2014

Romuald and Wordsworth

St Romuald's Brief Rule says, "Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it.... Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what their mother brings them." In that being is peace. The world may come with us into our cell, our place of prayer, but when it comes with us it comes into the paradise of God's grace, and wonderful things are possible there.

The world is too much with us, and sometimes at the moment it feels very much too much with us. Wars and rumours of wars, fear, hatred, death, loss, pain, grief. What can I do in the midst of so much suffering? My little efforts feel like less than the widow's mite. But I need to remind myself of what I am, of who God has asked me to be: to dwell in my inner place as if it were paradise and wait there. Even though it feels quite often as though no-one else has turned up - to wait there is a gift and it is paradise. My inner cell is the doorstep to heaven and I should be content to sit and wait there, whether there is sunshine or rain, and know that the world I have put behind me is part of me and is waiting on the doorstep with me, gathered to paradise in my heart.

But no-one said it would be easy. As one of the monks at St John's Abbey preached, in our monastic round of rediscoveries and re-echoes and revisiting the same truths day after day, "we have good days, and bad days, and sometimes just days". And quite often its raining on the doorstep, or it's cold, and frequently it is lonely and dark and dispiriting, and sunshine and light and love seem like a distant dream. A long obedience in the same direction, as Eugene Peterson called one of his books, requires sitting on the doorstep even in the winter when the snow is piled so high we cannot see over it and springtime seems a million years away.

But then there are the days when the daffodils are dancing in my garden and the first of the tulips are poking through the ground, the sun is warm on my back as I do a bit of weeding, and the tree down the road is pink with blossom: to sit on the doorstep of my heart on those days is easy and the whole day bubbles with a deep and subtle joy, even when the world is too much with us and seems to be falling around my ears and I don't know what to pray or to say or to do to help. Maybe it's enough. I pray that it is.

No comments: