A great article by Gregory Hillis at America Media today. Here’s but one quote from it.
“Covid-19 cannot but remind us of our mortality and fragility, and so it can help us to rethink our priorities. ‘All life is lived in the shadow of death,’ said Brother Quenon, ‘and we forget that.'”
You should read it all. We’re all Monks Now
For myself, I have begun to live a more Monk-ish existence. Living a bit more simply has included prayer in the morning and evening and an afternoon Mass watch before lunch. I’ve taken to doing the cooking for the most part, when we’re not eating some kind of frozen dinner and I’ve enjoyed the creativity of it and the relative ease of doing so. The simple pleasure of dancing with my wife (below) on our anniversary has taken on new meaning. One friend pointed out that this should be a special anniversary, because it was just the two of us. True enough.
I suppose since monks aren’t married that this wasn’t exactly the best example, but calls with old friends, books unread and now explored, chores, my dog’s loyalty, new projects with old colleagues….all have lent themselves to a more contemplative space.
We can all find ourselves being too busy and thinking that our important jobs are the center of our lives. In many ways, they can be an extension of ourselves, but they can also be a “disordered attachment.”
Brother Quenon remarked that “power and wealth leaves us spiritually impoverished as we scurry about, consumed by the busyness of life.” Those things can pass away all too easily. Living in death’s shadow places an earnestness on our lives. An intentionality of finding the pearl of great price.
The other gospel story that comes to mind is Mary and Martha. Often I’ve been in groups reflecting on this gospel where the question is asked if we are “a Mary” or “a Martha?” Mary is placing herself at God’s disposal, taking everything in that Jesus wants her to understand. Martha is too busy for all that and is tending to mundane tasks. The lesson here is not to choose between Mary or Martha, but to temper our “Martha energy” so that we are not “all work and no play.”
Monks seem to have that down. In the Abbey, they work….sometimes very hard. But when the bell rings, they must stop working. Why?
Because now it is time to pray.
Imagine if we did that each day in our busy lives. What if we just stopped and rested with God for just a bit? 10-20 minutes of quiet prayer might actually make us more attentive to the matters that are most important.
COVID-19 may make us all pay a bit more attention to our lives. It has already installed a lot of fear, but in the best sense of that word. Living on the precipice of a great moment in our time is exactly what God hopes for us. We are called to those most in need, but also are called upon by God to “choose the better part” again and again.
Discernment is always key. Perhaps cooler heads in this crisis will come forth if we return to our monasteries?