Some of us at the monastery are studying the Gospel of Mark. Mark calls it the “Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ”. As we learn that Mark was writing to a people who were being persecuted for their faith we realize how important it was for them to be rooted firmly in that faith and to know Jesus personally. Only then could they understand that the “good news” means that we are saved from death. After this life – there is still life for us! It is a life free from persecution, pain and suffering. And this is ours, given by God who loves us unconditionally!
Most of us have heard these things all our lives. But have we really heard them?
As we enter into this season of lent we are presented with an opportunity to ponder what this “good news” means for us today. Many people live in a world of fear – fear of violence and physical harm, emotional abuse and worry about what the future holds. The words “deportation” and “racism” bring new levels of fear and anxiety. The media is especially good at keeping the negative emotions stirred up.
The good news of Jesus does not tell us that these difficult things will go away but that we are not alone in facing them. When we say we feel all alone, God’s response is “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). When we say I am afraid, God’s response is “I have not given you a spirit of fear” (II Tim. 1:7). So if God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear why is it that we have it?
In a daily meditation book called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, we are reminded to keep our focus on Christ and his presence with us. This helps us to be grateful for our many blessings even as we face great trials, and gratefulness blocks out fear. Lent then can be a time to focus our lives on Christ, mindful of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Our Lenten resolutions can be ones that lead us to understand more deeply the good news of Jesus Christ and lead us to live in a spirit of gratitude. We then can listen to what RESPONSE God is asking us to make in this time of uncertainty. How are we being called to be neighbor to those around us who feel threatened?
We here at the monastery keep you all in our prayers, that you may know that you are loved by God, called by God and supported by God in this journey. So then Easter will be celebrated with great joy and thanksgiving. Peace and Easter blessings to all of you. Sr. Eileen
Outside the front door to our residence hall, a phenomenon happens each year that stirs my spirit. It is the blooming of one particular crocus. It reminds me so much of what living in the mountains of eastern Kentucky is really about overcoming.
What makes it unique is that it is planted right next to the sidewalk of the residence hall beneath a large oak tree in compacted, rocky soil. These are the absolute worst conditions in which to grow a plant. Yet it has returned each of the eight years that I have lived in that building.
It is small. It blooms for maybe a week. It usually only puts out three or four white blooms and then disappears for another year. And its appearance lightens my spirit.
This year the crocus came on February 10th and it has been more productive than usual, producing at least six blooms so far although it may be at the end of its season-just as we enter Lent.
The crocus reminds me that even when life is hard and conditions are rocky, I can still bloom. It reminds me that being a consistent presence may be exactly what someone else needs to get through a “rocky patch”. And it reminds me that even when something is no longer visible, it still lives.
I hope there is a crocus in your life. And that its short bloom leads you to the eternal God. Sr. Kathy C.
November 30, 2011
“Every day we have gives us another chance to become the real person we are meant to be.” That is a quote from Joan Chittister’s commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict, Insight for the Ages and notably from Chap. 36: The Sick. I know Benedict is talking about the physical sickness of a person, but he likewise wants us to take into consideration the whole person. I think of how each of us here at the monastery is striving in her own way to be the person God has created us to be each and every day. Some days we do better than others at letting God be in charge. Living in community can be a challenge and the calling to both private and community prayer each and every day is where it starts.
Chap. 37 The Elderly and the Young. “Life is a series of phases, each of them important, all of them worthwhile.” You know I think of where I am now and where I was five, ten, fifteen years ago and I am so grateful that each and every day I am challenged by my community, by the people I work with and the situations that come up to stop, look and listen to discover God’s presence in each of them.