Friday, January 15, 2010

January 16 - Love and Laughter

We may not speak of the austerity of Carmel or the poverty of the Poor Claires without giving place to the ringing laughter that can be heard within their walls.

There was the morning when the young - and zealous - new postulant, in obedient silence, wrested the duster from the hands of the old Sister so that she could have the choir wiped clean and shining before the others arrived, only to discover she had been polishing with the venerable Sister’s oversized handkerchief!

There are the smiles when food is scarce and the superior announces the substitutions on the menu. If the meat, which for both Carmelites and Poor Claires is always fish, is hidden away in the salad, the Sisters are told from the head table where to find it. Several root vegetables “sub” for potatoes, which must be present but might not be available.

Monastics laugh with one another and they laugh at themselves. They chuckle over poverty and smile at bone-weariness. They grow to love one another with a depth of affection seldom replicated, because they daily practice treating one another as they would their Lord Jesus.

In Carmel, hardship is not sadness, and sadness is not despair. Difficulties are friends and disciplines are comforts. We spoke of desert survival training. We find our first issue of monastic gear waiting for us at the door to our cell, tied up in a little bundle with cords of love. Let us gird ourselves in this truth today: we, of all the inhabitants of earth, may choose joy for our portion. It might be hidden under the turnips greens, but it is there, and it will nourish our souls, and it is ours for the taking!

Whatever difficulties we face, we will never confront them without the love and peace of God. Whatever changes we must make, we may always make them for the sake of Jesus Christ. Whatever ills we have suffered or persecutions that may come, the One Who has gone before us will always confront them with us, and in us, and for the joy set before us, we take heart.

The sounds of monastic silence are patently cheerful.

"The Best Medicine"
photo by Kerry

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