Attention and discernment

The process of moving house has a way of shifting and focusing relationships: what is dear about a place may become more dear and beautiful still, what is distressing about a place, or troubling, may become bearable because time-limited.

Likewise one’s life in artifacts shifts — suddenly there is so much one does not need to hang on to, and the process of sorting and dispositions can even be entered into with a kind of ferocious joy. As for the life in the house, communal and material, one recognizes that what has been done is done, what has been left undone, well, either one fixes it quickly or it no longer needs attention, and may God have mercy for the rest.

In sum, this is the condensed-Shakespeare version of the continual process of coming into life as a contemplative monastic person. It is an even more-condensed-Shakespeare version of our life in Advent, in the Church and the world, as Christians awaiting the days “that are surely coming.” Either that Day will come to meet us, or we will go to meet it.

In this season we are all given grace, the merciful space to remember these things, to sit up straighter, to stand up and pay attention, see and understand the relative position, and relation, of all the things in our milieu. Advent bespeaks our life as contemplatives even more so than does Lent. This is our season. For the monastic life is a permanent icon, resident in the Church of the grace, the urgency, the reality of Advent. Let us be what we are with clarity, with attention, with joy.

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