Saturday, November 19, 2011

finding the grille view

Sometimes I look at the world and feel unsettled.  Perhaps that’s why I’m so grateful to have grillwork. I am glad to be able to respond to world upheavals, physical conditions, relationships, the media, and my own anxieties “through the grille.” 

Again I think of the word practice. As one who’s been trying for 20 years to “see and respond to situations through the grille,” I know that learning to find the view through the grille takes practice.  In the analogy of the cloistered heart, our grillwork is the will of God as it’s revealed to us in Scripture and Church teaching.  Fine.  But how does that work in “real life?”  How is it put into practice?

I compare it to the way things work for a cloistered nun meeting visitors in the foyer.  Sister stands at the grille, looking out at whoever stands before her.  The foyer is a public part of the monastery, accessible to almost anyone.  In my monastery, I see the "foyer" as my mind.  I invite thoughts there by what I see and hear, but I have little control over things that come uninvited.  If I get on a bus, go have a haircut, walk into a store… all sorts of things push in.  They’re like salesmen invading a monastery foyer.  They can be quite insistent, especially if they’ve had success in selling to me before.  Oh, and so many of them have!

Through the grille, they display catalogs of their wares.  “Have you worried about this today?” the thoughts ask. “Look at this new line of fears - tailor made just for YOU!”  

God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)  I ask God to impress this truth upon me.

“But consider the pain you’ve been feeling!!” the thoughts insist.

"I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).  I recite this bar of my grille over and over.

“…But look at you!  You are weak and helpless and poor!”   

“In Him Who is the source of my strength I have strength for everything.” (Philippians 4:13).   Maybe I'll write that grille piece on paper and tape it to my mirror. 

And on it goes.  Finding the view is not easy.  I try every day; I fail every day.  But with every “success,” it seems the grillwork grows stronger before me.  It is how God invites me to meet the world.    

“During this changeable life, one must preserve a steady and imperturbable evenness of spirit.  Although everything may change around us, we must keep the serene glance of our soul constantly turned to God. ” (St. Francis de Sales)