Can we retreat a little from wanting to be in control, wanting to be important, and just settle into a community where we are all equal, alongside, and along with, everyone else and everything else in our environment.
To be in community must be one of the greatest gifts of God. We all live in community though we may not all feel a part of community. Think for a moment about a monastic community, a Saint Benedict monastic community to be exact. Benedictine monks and nuns follow Saint Benedict’s rule. which promotes the very best of community living. Benedict expected each member to commit totally to communal living, to fulfil a role within their community and to love others within that community. So each day involves work, prayer, worship and study for everyone. Everyone contributes, everyone benefits.
Benedict taught his monks to use their senses, especially to listen and look. To listen to God and their fellows, to look for God and signs of God’s kingdom. In that way they are enabled to respond in the most useful way. They must do everything cheerfully, value their work, even if it is mundane, be generous in the way they give of themselves and their talents. It is important to keep learning, keep persevering and keep Christ as goal. Together the community members promote holiness and wholeness. Everyone has what they need, but not too much. They are respectful of all the community’s possessions and welcoming to monks from other communities who visit.
As a community embedded in God’s creation the Benedictine way of life has been shown to be very successful in its contribution to society as a whole, whilst respecting everyone as an equal and having regard too for the natural world. Since the establishment of communities in the 6th century Benedictine communities have become associated with magnificent buildings, achievements in farming, traditions of fine scholarship and education as well as economic success. Benedict’s rule is certainly a valuable tool for life. Jill