Friday, November 17, 2023

All I Must Do Is Accept

I have been privileged to spend time in monasteries of nuns on several occasions. As a retreatant, I've been able to live inside the enclosure for a few days at a time...praying with the Sisters, joining them for Mass, taking meals with them, sleeping in a cell.

One of the (many) things that struck me during such experiences was the simplicity of monastic life, and I probably noticed this most during mealtimes.  The monastic meal stands in stark contrast to meals in the world. The food is nourishing but simple, adequate but not overly abundant. Normally, meals are taken in silence.

In one monastery I have visited, breakfast is eaten while one is standing. The nuns file into the "refectory" (dining room) after Mass, pour themselves coffee or juice, take a piece of toast or fruit, and move to their assigned places at table. Each Sister goes quietly about the business of eating. She accepts the food necessary for her to move forward into this day. It is all very efficient, basic, and starkly simple.

Nourishment of the spirit has come first, nourishment of the body follows immediately after. Both are important, but priorities are in their proper order. There is work to be done: spirit and body must be ready to do it.

For me, there is work to be done - no matter what shape that may take. I need the nourishment of spirit and body to meet whatever the day ahead shall bring. I may see, as I look forward with "morning eyes," some of the things awaiting me. Others will be surprises.

God, however, knows what lies ahead. Nothing that happens today will surprise Him. Because He knows, He has already made preparations. He has provided nourishment for me ahead of time.  All I must do is accept it.

It is all very efficient, basic, and starkly simple. All I must do is accept. 

"My God, I give You this day. I offer You, now, all of the good I shall do - and I promise to accept, for love of You, all of the difficulty that I shall meet. Help me to conduct myself during this day in a manner pleasing to You."  

(St. Francis de Sales, Direction of Intention)

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