May 20, 2018 | Reflections From Abbess Mary
The Word for the Day on the Gratefulness.org website the other day was:
When a great ship is in harbour and moored, it is safe,
there can be no doubt.
But…that is not what great ships are built for.
You’ve probably heard of this saying before as I have but this time, when I read it just before the end of our few weeks of relaxation, and the great feast of Pentecost, it took on new meaning for me which I think is very apt for us at this time.
Most, if not all of us, love a time of relaxation and recuperation! Relaxed days, time to read and pray, take extra rest, go for long walks etc. It’s a wonderful time of the year when we are, to use the image in the quote, “moored and safe in our harbour”, getting repairs as it were, having a rest, going on shore leave, enjoying ourselves.
But, as monastic nuns, deep down, we know in our hearts, that’s not what we’re built for, it’s not what we came for, it’s not the sort of lifestyle that would sustain or satisfy our seeking hearts for too long! I think perhaps that was obvious when we took up with Vigils Sunday morning and then Lauds and Mass. It was a very special morning and I think spoke deeply to all our hearts and desires.
The same, I think, is true for the post-Resurrection disciples of Jesus. You will remember that just before our time away I shared with you an inspiring article about Rue Galilee. “Go back to Galilee” was the message of the angel and Jesus to the terrified disciples, and they did go back to Galilee.
Galilee became their “mooring in a safe harbour” after the tumultuous time of the crucifixion. Galilee was familiar to them, it was the place where it all began
when their hearts were captivated by Jesus. It was the place of their first fervour and the weeks after the Resurrection. It was a real time of R & R for them.
They were together, eating, discussing, praying. They went fishing as in days of old. They went on walks…and everywhere they went, Jesus came to meet them, to instruct them again, to explain things, to forgive them, eat with them, love them.
Galilee, was indeed a safe harbour where they relaxed, rested, went out for breakfast on the beach, spent time with Jesus and were repaired, healed, forgiven, strengthened, renewed. But, whether they knew it or not, that “safe harbour” of Galilee was not what they were made for.
Perhaps they had an inkling of their future mission at the Ascension when Jesus left them with the words, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News”. Nothing safe about that and so, again in obedience to what Jesus asked of them, they left Galilee, their safe harbour, and returned to the city, Jerusalem, there to wait and pray for the “power from on high”. Little did any of them know what power, what energy, what drama would behold them at Pentecost………. and beyond!
At Pentecost, they finally knew with the full force of the Spirit, what they, as apostles and disciples of the Risen Christ were “built for” and they embraced their mission with passion, commitment and faithfulness.
You and I are in the same boat, so to speak, as these disciples. We are back from our Galilee, our safe harbours and ready to sail the high seas again! And, it is no coincidence that the very day after returning, we received that same power, energy and mission of the Holy Spirit, perhaps not as dramatically as the disciples experienced on that first Pentecost, but, we know, from the promise of Jesus, that these same gifts are given to you and I, to strengthen us, renew us and send us out with fire and passion to be and do what we were built for!
And what are we built for?
What do we want, deep down in our hearts?
And more importantly, as disciples of Jesus, awash, aglow, alive with the Spirit, what is it that God is asking of us – especially this year?
These are good questions to ask ourselves right now!
Some of the answers to those questions might include the following:
to seek God with all my heart,
to take the Gospel and the Rule for my guide,
to praise God’s name and intercede for God’s people through the Liturgy of the Hours,
to be faithful to Lectio Divina,
to live wholeheartedly, humbly and peacefully with my sisters in stability and community,
to work for the common good,
to be known for my good zeal,
to welcome all who come here as Christ…
Could we take a minute now and ask what could we add to that list?
In St Paul’s Letter to Timothy, we are exhorted to
Fan into a flame the gifts that God has given you.
This call for us, to fan the flames of the gifts of the Spirit is more vital than ever at this particular time in the history of our community. We know that we face a number of challenges at present, challenges of discernment for future leadership, challenges of failing health for some, challenges of work and trying to find balance in our lives, financial challenges and now challenges related to the new document from Rome which will require a great deal of work and possibly change for us. None of these challenges are easy, but equally, they are not insurmountable.
The keys to facing these challenges lie in the story we have been celebrating these past 50 days. They lie in the Rue Galilee, going back to our roots, re-membering and re-vitalising that first call when Jesus captured our hearts. The keys lie in the togetherness, the bonding together in solidarity and love, they lie in the deep seeking of the Risen Jesus at every turn, they lie in hearts that listen and pray. The keys lie in openness to the Spirit of God, moving in the depths of our being both individually and communally strengthening us, challenging us, firing us, nudging us, nipping at our heels, urging us to step forth, step out, step up and be what we are built for!
I am reminded at this time of that wonderful question asked by Mary Oliver the American poet:
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU PLAN TO DO
WITH YOUR ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE?”
So what are we going to do with our one wild and precious life this year?
- Let this be the year when we will move out of the “safe harbours” of keeping to ourselves and enter into communication, appreciation and a deeper sense of care and kindness with one another.
- Let it be a year when each morning we will faithfully give time to our lectio divina and our inner work and discern the previous days efforts.
- Let it be a year when we come out from our self-made prisons, our individualism, opening the cage door and allowing the Holy Spirit to fly unencumbered in our lives.
Our time is now. The Spirit is calling. Each of us is needed for the good, the vitality, the future of the whole. The journey awaits. Are you on board?
In the wind of the Spirit let us set sail.
In the fire of the Spirit let us set our course, our hearts ablaze with love, passion, faithfulness and joy!
When a great ship is in harbour and moored,
it is safe, there can be no doubt.
But… that is not what great ships are built for.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?