Friday, August 12, 2011


Reverence is one of the underlying themes in the Rule.  In regard to material things it suggests handling with care, and it is not bad description of handling people as well.  In practice this may mean distancing myself, both literally and figuratively.  It is only too easy to crust, to impose, to manipulate.  It may mean allowing someone to make their own mistakes and being prepared to stand back and wait, however painful and difficult that may in fact be.  Yet it may be the necessary price of healing.

For we are shown the costliness of healing love when things have gone wrong and the good shepherd goes in search of the sheep.  He begins gently with the oil of encouragement, but he may have to go on to the cauterizing iron, and finally it may be that he has to apply the knife of amputation.  It is no good shrinking from this.  For there is a very real danger that we may be tempted to protect the other person from themselves, not to face them with any sort of honesty about what they are doing both to themselves and to other people.  But St. Benedict will not let us do this.  he know how wrong it is to over-protect.  he says in chapter 69 how important it is to stand aside, and to let the other be themselves.  This is not because we do not care about them.  The reverse is true.  But we have to find the right, delicate balance of concern which does not stifle, does not over-protect. 

From Living with Contradiction, Reflections onf the Rule of St. Benedict
by Esther de Waal

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