Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What If...and Beyond

I can begin with good news! My request to make perpetual monastic profession was accepted by the Admissions Chapter. However, you probably won't be surprised to know that I don't dash these blogs off and post them immediately. They have, in fact, become part of my discernment. This is the fruit of the process at a moment of uncertainty, before the Chapter, but its essence still applies.

I used to view discernment as finding an answer to a particular question, but this discernment towards a lifelong commitment in perpetual profession is not that. Essentially, I have known my answer to the question "Do I want to profess?" from before I entered as a postulant. I feel called by God to this life. The key discernment question for me is not "Shall I stay living this life?"but "Why would I stay living this life?" I think it's probably been clear from previous posts that the reason I would stay is that my life here consistently, if slowly, draws me into a greater awareness of God, more deeply into the divine mystery. I imagine (and hope) that this "Why?" question will stay with me for the rest of my life, not in the sense that I would be questioning whether I should still be here but because reflecting on the  "Why?" of monastic life guards against falling into the trap of going through the motions, and helps one keep moving forward, going deeper, allowing transformation to happen.

What if, at this point, I was in the position of wanting to say "yes" but the community had said "no"? I didn't really anticipate that happening, but it's a good question because it put me into a position where I had to look at the possibility of not getting what I wanted, and ask where God would be in that scenario. I would, of course, have been very upset, but if I gently put my emotional response to one side, I am left with a set of four very simple propositions:
  • God would still be God
  • The world would still exist
  • I would still be me
  • God would still be in me and in the world
Understanding this is immensely liberating because it hones my awareness that the order of creation is not shaken if I don't get my own way, that I am not the center of the universe and, most importantly, that my trust in God, and my desire to seek Him, is not dependant on what happens to me. It is an understanding which enables me to pray, without reservation, that I can give myself fully and unreservedly to God whatever the unknown future brings.

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