The patient work of love

It could be said that the revelations made to Julian were an intensive introduction into the heart of Jesus; a guided, hedged-about introduction into the depths of her own soul, her own motivations; and opening out from these, an intensive tutorial on Christian polity, life in Christ together with all who shall be saved.

And this is the program of the monastery as well. Everywhere we turn, visually and textually there are reminders of Jesus; our actions and reactions as we go through the day invite us to face our desires and motivations. As we participate in the offices and give ourselves to the daily horarium, all this together acts as a kind of centrifuge, the loving pressure of which ideally forces us again and again out of our innate self-centeredness and makes us both aware of and careful for others.

This is not always a straight-line process, though, and can take some time. You know how you get a bag of pistachio nuts and there are always a few that are completely crack-free, absolutely impregnable and therefore, inedible? You could go at them with the pliers but this often produces shatteringly mixed results.

So the resistant parts of ourselves, like the nuts, need extra time, then, rattling about and ricocheting off the walls of the monastic centrifuge until some thinner place in the shell at last gives way a little and allows love a way in. This is the grace of a good, sturdy and disciplined horarium, and healthy community life that can hold that kind of bumpy work. And as we are already and only at week four, also the grace of a long-enough Lent.

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