Orienting

And just like that, Epiphany is almost over. We have had a few snowstorms to make it feel more like winter, but you can hear more birds in the woods. The willows are yellow, buds are swelling on the trees, and the sun is shifting higher in the sky. This year Candlemas has come at the end of this season of light, and the sky wide open over our field of snow opens another. And much of nature is oriented to the light, and by light.

In the monastery we have crucifixes in almost every room. We orient ourselves by them as we navigate the house, acknowledging the presence and servant-lordship of Jesus by the humble obedience of his cross in every area of our lives. Thus we venerate the crucifix and the altar as we go in and or out of the chapel, and the crucifix in the refectory after the grace and thanksgiving at meals, and so on. We do this even in the dark, whether we can see the crucifix or not.

Getting oriented is not always convenient—even in nature, things that seek light often have to follow it through obstacles and obstructions. It can cause interruptions: in our monastery the chapel is between the hall and the stairway and simply to go upstairs or downstairs requires us to stop and bow, something that asks a modicum of awareness and reverence in the otherwise unthinking business of walking from one place to another. And we find that sometimes inconvenience isn’t always what we think.

 

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