As part of our celebrations for our 30th anniversary, we spent some time collectively reflecting on our motto and how we live it out.
The second word of our motto is allow. To allow is where the hope of awaiting becomes a more specific trust. If awaiting teaches us detachment, allowing begins to teach us discernment. It asks of us a little more stillness and receptivity, and to listen for what the proper response to any one particular situation may be, yet it is not complete passivity.
The kind of “active” passivity that allowing requires is that we be teachable. This means remaining receptive and responsive, permitting both inner and outer realities to instruct us. It is an essential tool for our purification. The willingness to “suffer through” our own inner annoyances versus resisting and so aggravating them, for instance, helps us grow into a condition where we can be purified further. This too represents a willed choice, thus, an act of love.
The same may be said of outer annoyances and sufferings that we do not choose. The desert elders considered things that provoked them as “the medicine of Christ”, permitting their hidden illnesses to be exposed and healed. On the one hand we can resist and defend ourselves, venting and focusing our attention on our pain on those who provoke us, or we can allow the bitterness of our feelings to be a kind of gift, not permitting them to sweep us away and control us. This letting go is still a deeper level of trust, asking us to renounce anxiety when it occurs. We also learn, over time, the critical discernment of when to let go and when it is better to resist.
Allowing is to teach us, at length, that patience which can receive all things, regardless of their disguise of the moment, for God’s work in the soul. This is allowing through a long process of patient trust, and slowly discerning wisdom.