Keep Death Daily before our Eyes

September 12, 2015 | Monastic Musings

Reflections from some of the nuns

Keep death daily before our eyes

RB4 The tools for good works.

St Benedict instructs us to keep death daily before our eyes. Is this a morbid thing? No, not at all. St Benedict puts this instruction in Chapter 4 of his Rule which he entitles ‘The tools for good works’.  Keeping death daily before my eyes prompts me to be mindful of the things that are important, the things that last. It helps to keep me right sized and grounded in the reality of this moment.

This has been brought home very powerfully in the last weeks following the death of our Sr Carmen. What matters? What is important?  We know that we take nothing with us when we die, and so what is it that we leave behind?

On Carmen’s death there followed, in that sacred week before we put her body to rest, the palpable presence of the living gifts that she left us.

For me these gifts were her smile and her simplicity.  They were manifested in her faith that knew that ‘all will be well’ and indeed, all was well and all is well. Her love, and kindness and faithfulness to the ordinary everyday moments of monastic life were gifts that will live long in our hearts and our minds.

As with all us Carmen was no plaster saint. She had her human weaknesses and failings as we all do.  Truly and once again I have learned to know that it is not the weaknesses and failings that we bequeath to those left behind. It is the good, the love, the faith, the hope, the blessed humanness that finds its home in us and warms our hearts.

To keep death before my eyes today and just for today, reminds me to smile, to feel the gratitude that wells from my soul for the gift that this day is.  I am reminded to be willing to be a little more gentle and forgiving both with others and myself and to allow kindness to soften my actions and interactions. It helps to remind me of what is important and what is not, of what is lasting and what is not.

Sr Carmen

Sr Magdalen Mather osb