Friday, February 5, 2010
February 5 – Beauty and the Beast
The nuns at Regina Laudis Abbey would tell us that all the vagaries of life will play out in the monastery.
The monks at a Cistercian monastery in Switzerland would certainly profess the same. Stone walls, even walls that have rung with praise for God over several centuries, cannot shut out jealousy or bar the door against selfishness.
What they can do is guarantee an opportunity to address those enemies in the land. They wrap themselves around the lives of men and women who have taken up the opportunity to conquer evil inside. In Cor Unum, we may do the same.
A quick tour, a virtual tour, of monasteries around the world is a picture album of lovely, pleasant faces. There seems to be a like percentage inside the cloister of “beautiful” women to plain. There will always be those Sisters about whom the thoughts of some will tend at first toward, “What is she doing in a convent? She could have been a beauty pageant winner!” No wonder so many orders used to prefer absolute anonymity! A beautiful Sister must learn to be beautiful in the Abbey. That cannot be any less difficult than learning to be “plain.”
Let us always examine honestly here. In nature, in every aspect of God’s creation of earth and sky and sea, there are vistas and panoramas and natural still-life that make us stop in our tracks. At times a sense of wonder will rise in the most atheistic soul which will require lots of bells and whistles to explain it away from its divine source. The beauty of the earth and atmosphere can move us to depths of wonder and joy and peace and even hope.
No matter the venue, the monastic learns to shun only the beast of beauty. The true monastic revels in the beauty of the beautiful Sister, and glories in the searching eyes of the wrinkled old nun who had never been given that "pretty" appellation. As the nuns learn to look inside and burnish the fixtures there, they learn to appreciate that exercise in one another. No one who has ever taken polish and cloth to the soul could fail to have regard for others with sleeves rolled up in the same pursuit.
"Polishin' Me Brasses"
photo by Kerry