During my first two years in the monastery, one of my routine labora assignments was to clean the chapel weekly. For statues and windows it was a stand-up job on ladders and stepstools. It became a kneel-down job when I got to the baseboards, choir stalls, and kneelers. Through this assignment I began to realize that you don’t really know a place until you have cleaned it, no matter how much time you may spend there.
Likewise, we each have our own interior nooks and crannies. The nightly Examination of Conscience is a good way to expose the dust and debris of our hearts and seek cleansing and healing from our merciful Lord. But no matter how much we reflect we can never know ourselves as well as the One who, in the words of Psalm 51, is able to “wash away all my guilt, and from my sin cleanse me.”
In Psalm 139, the Psalmist writes, “Lord, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand…” The Lord, indeed, knows us better than we know ourselves, no matter how much time we may spend in self-examination. Let us be humble and grateful in our dear Lord’s loving presence as we seek His healing, cleansing touch.
“Probe me, God, know my heart; try me know my concerns. See if my way is crooked, then lead me in the ancient paths.” Ps 139:23-24
Postscript: Tonight we’ll be back at it again, still cleaning – and getting to know – our renewed monastic home.