A retreat group arrived and while still in the parking lot one of the leaders asked, “Do we use the usual entrance?” After our affirmative answer, the group proceeded toward a rarely-used door that was, as usual, locked. Oops! Sr. Therese went running through the building to open it from the inside, realizing that yes, this group does use an entrance that otherwise gets utilized just a few times a year. For the group, the door was usual. To us, unusual.
It’s good for things like this to happen occasionally because even simple, inconsequential, easily-remedied situations such as this can remind us that our own perspective can often be limited by patterns of thought, movement, etc. that prevent us from being able to see such things as a perfectly good door that is right in front of us, just waiting to be unlocked and opened.
I am sometimes amazed by the ingenuity of groups in their use of our retreat spaces. We’ve seen the various meeting areas arranged in what seems like every configuration possible, yet a new group can often envision yet another way in which to arrange one of our rooms. Thank goodness for creativity and vision!
Even when the situation is not as simple or inconsequential as an alternate way of utilizing space, encountering the perspective and vision of another can challenge us to assess and explore our own perspectives. It can be like an open door through which we both learn and share, and through which the Holy Spirit can move as we seek to grow in wisdom and knowledge of God.
Postscript: One of the gifts of monastic life is that every day we pray, live and work with Sisters with a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, personalities, and temperaments. And yet we share a common desire and call – the search for God through the monastic way of life.
The first word of the Rule of St. Benedict is “Listen.” Through the discipline of listening, we learn to unlock and open the door of our hearts, attentive to the movement of the Spirit – which at times may come through the voice of one whose perspective differs from our own.