Monday, June 2, 2014

The Bars of Our Grille

In the "analogy" that is the Cloistered Heart, the grille is key.  As we said in our last post, a monastery grille is a place of separation and a place of encounter.  It is only through the grille that some cloistered individuals connect with the world.

Thankfully, God has not left those who live outside physical monasteries without a means to connect with the world as well.  He has generously provided for each of us a way to see situations correctly, a way to interact with others appropriately. God invites us to view and respond to every person and every circumstance through His will.

We do not have to guess what that will is.  God has revealed it to us.  Scripture and the authentic teachings of the Church make up the bars of our grille.

Am I facing a hardship?  I can face it through the grillwork of His will. “God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him…”  (Romans 8:28).   

I think often of how it must be for a cloistered nun meeting visitors in the foyer.  Sister stands at the grille, looking out at whoever is there before her.  The foyer is a public part of the monastery, accessible to almost anyone.

In the cloistered heart analogy, 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.  All sorts of things beg for admittance; 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!” 

I have gone so far as to make little paper "grilles" for myself (sometimes from photos of grillwork), and I've written verses of scripture on the bars to remind me that I am to look at this or that situation through these words.  Every circumstance, every person, every concern, every temptation - everything is to be viewed, and responded to, through the "grillwork" of God's will.  

"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).

“…But look at you!  You are weak and helpless!”   
"In Him Who is the source of my strength I have strength for everything.” (Philippians 4:13).

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.

The idea of the grille reminds me that I'm not called to flee from circumstances, nor to hide myself behind walls.  Life with its joys and challenges IS going to come to me, ringing for my attention. 

Part of living within the will of God is meeting life daily, face-to-face. 

I thank God that He has given Scripture and Church teaching to form the "bars of our grille." 

Photos on this post are copyright N. Shuman



  1. This is very helpful, Nancy! The mind is the foyer..not the enclosure. I often find myself being called away from staring idly into the foyer!

    1. Oh my heavens, do I ever identify, Trish! "Staring idly into the foyer"...... that is absolutely me.