Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 15 - Carmel

For the Carmelite nun, the words “monastery” and “cloister” are not as descriptive of her new dwelling place as the word, “Carmel.” The Carmelite does not go into a convent or abbey so much as into a desert place.

It was on Mount Carmel that Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal, and the Lord God vanquished them; there, God Almighty answered by fire (1 Kings 18.) On Mount Carmel, the Shunnamite woman found Elisha and would not let him go until he came to her rescue (2 Kings 4.) A rugged desert range, preferred by prophets, where the enemies of God breathed their last, and from whence a dead child would breathe again.

There are some naturally taciturn men and women among us. There are those whose diet can or must be limited or even “strict,” who find no difficulty with it. We all have acquaintances who prefer large portions of solitude to a full social calendar. Carmel could accommodate all of these, but Carmel is something more.

Carmel is to love discipline and difficulty as the dearest and best of friends, intrinsically. Carmel does not accept hardship - it flings wide the door!

This is not the work of a week, nor of months, or years. Carmel is bearing the burdens of others and so fulfilling the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2) Carmel is hard; it is demanding. It is not easily understood. Carmel closely resembles . . . life.

In Cor Unum Abbey, there are forces to be vanquished. Selfishness and haughtiness and apathy are among them. There are places in our hearts that will live again, if we will open wide the door to the remedies God provides within the hardships life supplies. Can we trust the Mojave of discipline? Can we befriend the Sahara of difficulties? With fountains of joy?

Among the other orders, Carmel takes on desert survival training. For each who will remain, there is an Arm upon which she may one day be seen coming up out of the wilderness. (Song of Solomon 8:5)

"Come With Me from Lebanon, My Bride."
(Song of Solomon 4:8)
Photo by Kerry

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