Sunday, April 14, 2013
What's it all About?
The following has been posted here before. If we're going back to cloistered heart basics, however, how can we not have another look at this? It's about as "basic" as we can get.
Looking at this material today, I've had a few surprises. Mainly: specific words and phrases have seemed to jump right off the screen and grab for my attention. Words like "tangible," "consecration," "decision," "my call" .....
My call is to be in the world but not of the world. This is not a new or different idea; rather, it is an emphasizing, a kind of "underlining," of every Christian's call. The uniqueness of this emphasis is in its monastic imagery.
I find it helpful to recognize that within me is a "place" set apart for and consecrated to God. This place of consecration is sacred and inviolate, for the God of all dwells therein.
The word "cloister" speaks of total consecration. Those who enter a traditional physical cloister make a tangible break from the world. Compromise does not fit well in a cloister, nor does lukewarmness, nor does complacency.
The cloistered life is absolute.
A nun living in a cloister has made a decision to live for God. She has made a break. A Christian living in the world is also called to make a decision to live for God, but the break for us is not so clean. The world is persistent in its tugs on the heart trying to live for God. We need support in our struggles to surrender our lives to God and to resist the world's allurements. This is where the imagery of the cloistered heart can be of help.
"It is best not to consider whether or not one is called to the cloister; that is not the point. If the cloister is in a man's heart, it is immaterial whether the building is actually there. The cloister in a man's heart means only this: God and the soul." (from Warriors of God by Walter Nigg, NY, Alfred A. Knopf, 1959, p. 13)
My cloister is not made of bricks and stones - but of God's holy will, in which I can choose to live.
The will of God, in fact, forms for me a "cloister grille," through which I may view and respond to all people, all circumstances, all things that make up the world before me.
We will talk more about these "basics" in the days just ahead....
Painting by Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael
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