Earlier today, just before Noon Prayer, Sr. Margaret Mary and I broke into broad smiles as soon as we saw each other, both of us wordlessly remembering a funny event from a couple of days ago over which we had laughed and laughed, a good natured, lingering laugh that neither of us could shake for quite a while. And we laughed again today, just remembering.
And then tonight, Sr. Therese and I shared a jovial conversation as we transitioned from Retreat Center dinner service to Vigil. And yesterday, a group of us laughed heartily over an experimental kitchen project.
Laughter, a smile, a jovial remark, a good-natured story, a cheery countenance – these are among the flowers that adorn the flow of time in the monastery.
Monastic time – the days, seasons, and years – tends to flow like an unhurried river through a broad coastal plain…quiet, subtle, unassuming…a river that wears its ‘river-ness’ with understated grace and unpretentious finesse. It doesn’t always look like much is happening, or that much is changing. But if you look closely at any flatwater river, you’ll see a tremendous amount of life and energy and even change as the river gives itself to the land, to the sky, and to its sea-ward course, drawing all the while on springs that well up from the earth below.
Likewise with our monastic call. We give ourselves to God, to one another, and to ministry as we unhurridly follow our Christ-ward course Time flows with an understated grace, with quiet subtlety, yet with energy and vitality, Living Water constantly welling up within us.
The vitality that expresses itself in the full bloom of a day in the monastery gets expressed in the most natural, unpretentious of ways, but in ways that are nonetheless full of the vigor of life. It happens in the liturgical cycle in which we move always deeper into the life of Christ. It happens in our times of personal prayer in which we draw near to the One whom we love with our whole hearts. It happens in the relationships and routines of community life and ministry. And it happens in the simplest of day-to-day encounters which enrich and enliven and bring the day into full bloom.
Sometimes it happens in tears. Sometimes in deep and serious conversation. And often it happens in the joy of laughter.