Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thoughts from Behind the Cloister Walls...

The Cloister Walls - Spring
    After posting yesterday, I fairly flew back to the abbey, back to the security and serenity behind the cloister walls.  I went first to the wonderful visitor's center.  The have a small theater there and the day before I had watched a biographical film of Thomas Merton.  Today I wanted something...anything that would blot out the horrible images of the Boston bombing.  The kind lady suggested a film about Father Matthew, a much beloved monk of the Abbey.
   The film began with Fr. Matthew saying, "When bad things happen, we always ask ourselves, why?  Why would God allow this to be?"  I had to smile.  A very fitting response to the range of emotion swirling in me.  Why indeed.  I knew that this film was just what I needed, right now.

   Later on in the film I learned Fr. Matthew had grown up and gone to school in Milton, Massachusetts - the very town I had taught in for 30 years before I retired! (You're right Janet...there are no coincidences!)  His words were comforting and poignant.  In an answer to his opening question he said, (and I paraphrase) "Sometimes there is no rational or satisfying answer, we can only go on living and do the best we can.  Most importantly, we can not give into despair."

A Garden Moment
   After the film I retreated to the garden...just to sit and feel the sun, smell the freshly cut grass, listen to the birdsong and the abbey bells.  It lifted my soul.    When I leave here tomorrow morning to attend my contemplative photography weekend workshop, I will take the peace of this place with me.  We all have this place of sanctuary within us, everyday and everywhere.  You don't have to travel to an abbey to get it!  We each have our own cloister walls behind which we can retreat in times of trouble.  In the end, however, we must open the gate and go out, rejoin the real world and just live our lives as best we can.  We can be content with the knowledge that we will be given what we need - in words or in images - always.

   (On my way to the library to post this, I checked in on the little birds in the nest I'd seen on the day I arrived.  They had left the nest, both of them.  The nest was empty.  Again, how fitting...I will leave this abbey "nest" tomorrow as well and I can't help but wish the little ones well as they explore their new and expanded world!)

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