April 15, August 15, December 15
Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received
If a pilgrim monastic coming from a distant region
wants to live as a guest of the monastery,
let her be received for as long a time as she desires,
provided she is content
with the customs of the place as she finds them
and does not disturb the monastery by superfluous demands,
but is simply content with what she finds.
If, however, she censures or points out anything reasonably
and with the humility of charity,
let the Abbess consider prudently
whether perhaps it was for that very purpose
that the Lord sent her.
If afterwards she should want to bind herself to stability,
her wish should not be denied her,
especially since there has been opportunity
during her stay as a guest
to discover her character.
“…provided she is content with the customs of the place as she finds them”
“…but is simply content with what she finds”
‘Content’… what a lovely word. I’m feeling very content right now. Not so much because I’ve had a delicious and satisfying meal and have a day of solitude planned, but because I’ve had the opportunity to discover new joy in a relationship that started 21 years ago at our first Knit Together.
I don’t want to go ‘off topic’ here, but there are several reasons for being content with ‘what I found’, which do probably have echoes within a monastic community.
I discovered that even though we’ve known each other for years, there are always deeper insights to share; that we can still learn from one another and encourage one another. Excitingly, there is *more* to our identities, and more to our relationship as we grow older – not less; nothing is shrinking; friendship and trust expand as we explore our separate experiences and confide the wisdom we’ve gleaned from them.
We pictured our friendship as a river that started high in the mountains 21 years ago as a mere trickle; over the years it grew into a stream and then a small river and even now there is still time and space for the river to flow broader and deeper. It’s the same river but now there’s so much more of it; **and there will be more still.**
Surely a community must have a similar experience of growth among the individuals that comprise it, and thus the community itself grows in Christlikeness; and our relationship with God, too, is not static or fixed. There are times when the river becomes a waterfall or a rapid or gets stuck behind a dam…but, in the end, a river always reaches the ocean, a destination that the mountain spring dreamed of but could not visualize.
So… let the visitor or newcomer be content; and yet, if they point out something with due humility, let it be considered; perhaps this is why God brought this person into the community (or into our lives). To keep us flowing and growing.
How open are we to an outsider’s view?
How shall we reveal our own perceptions in humility and charity?