As I anticipate coming into my tenth year as a Benedictine Oblate, I rejoice that the effect of Benedictine spirituality in my life has helped me to become less savage than I was, although I am still quite feral in some ways. But, as I explain in my latest column at First Things, there is a part of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict that still has me stymied: Benedictine Hospitality, and St. Benedict’s dictum that we must receive everyone we encounter as receiving Christ. I have a long way to go, there.
I became a Benedictine, rather than a Secular Franciscan, because my instincts have always been to the quiet side of life. I have always preferred prayerful contemplation and reading to almost anything else, and my instinct has always run toward the decidedly monastic-to-hermitish over the social. Franciscans, like their Father Francis, are much too jolly and prone toward get-togethers and celebrations. As an Oblate—with my own monastery hundreds of miles away, and no other Oblates living nearby, to my knowledge—there is little chance of my being invited to a mixer.
It’s not that I don’t like people. Generally speaking, I do like people; I think they’re funny, interesting, and mostly well-intended. I just don’t like being around them very much, and increasingly I wish I could communicate with everyone via skype or internet and leave all that physicality behind.
This has nothing to do with love. Whom I love, I love to near-distraction. And I dearly love the people I don’t want to be around. My husband’s family is more “mine” than my own biological siblings ever could be, my nieces and nephews amaze and delight me—and I just don’t understand why I have to get together with them all the time, or why I am having everyone over to celebrate Easter. When my son jokes that our doormat should say “go away,” he’s more right than he realizes.
Read the rest to find out how Lent is helping