There is change in the air as a storm approaches. The wind picks up, clouds gather, there may be a distant clap of thunder. As lightning flashes around us, we race for shelter.
Monastery grounds and walls are as subject to storms as those of any other building. They get slapped with rain, pelted with sleet, covered in snow. Inhabitants of the cloister might find themselves standing at a window looking out, maybe with a touch of concern. What are those chunks of hail doing to the roof? Are the windows secure against the wind?
The monastery of my life is vulnerable, too. I face storms, at times, of great magnitude. Sickness, sudden disaster, an unnerving news report. It helps me then to remember that I’m in the strongest cloister possible – the cloister of God’s loving embrace. Everything that touches me must first come through His hands, through His “permissive will.” I can do as St. Francis de Sales advised, and say amid my contradictions: “this is the very road to heaven. I see the door, and I am certain the storms cannot prevent us from getting there.”
“If Christ’s love is the enclosure wall (and we know that it is, for He has said that ‘My beloved is a garden enclosed), He encloses you; He IS the enclosure.” (Mother Mary Francis PCC, from “Walls Around the World”)
“Happy is the soul established in God and in holy humility. The winds of the storm are powerless to shake her.” (St. Jane de Chantal)
For prayer and meditation:
“In Him who is the source of my strength I have strength for everything.” (Philippians 4:13)
“Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
(public domain photo, altered)