Ordinary joy

Monastic life, as distinct as it may be in many respects, has much in common with other professions: having to get up so early in the morning, saying and doing the same things over and over again, performing everyday tasks over and over again, having to stay in one general area instead of going out many places and doing a variety of things—and so on.

There are days when a monk or nun may also find these things difficult and tiresome but, having made our choice when we committed ourselves, we continue to choose to commit ourselves. We always have a choice, and we consciously choose to renew it. At times when the routine is difficult, the choice that we make and continue to make can become a source of joy and contentment, if we allow it.

Because it is here, in the midst of ordinary things, that we are invited always to enjoy our Lord and delight in His love. We don’t have to be in church to realize this. Julian wrote “The simple enjoyment of our Lord is in itself a most blessed form of thanksgiving” (Chapter 41). Julian’s words have immense resonance for our daily living in a world which we humans—beloved though we may be to God—are so often less than fully human by the way we treat each other. Any moment of any kind of beauty or gratitude or momentary comfort, as much as any moment of the otherwise unnoticed, unattended ordinary, can become simple moments of “enjoyment and thanksgiving” which are both God’s gifts to us, and ours to God.

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