The Journey to Resurrection
(Lent, Holy Week and Easter in a Monastery) Day 8 “Now”
“Now the silence
Now the peace
Now the empty hands uplifted
Now the kneeling
Now the plea
Now the Father’s arms in welcome”.
Holy Week at the Monastery is much more quiet and subdued than I had expected before I arrived. Perhaps I have spent too many years in a parish where Holy Week at times was described jokingly as “Hell Week”.
The Palm Sunday liturgy yesterday was solemn but far from fussy, or triumphalistic. It was measured, balanced, spiritual, and I guess “German”. Even the conventual mass this morning was simple, without music, reflective and peaceful.
It has been cold. I hope today to take a walk in the afternoon, perhaps buy some good honey at the local store to take home with me. Make time for writing and reading. It feels like I am getting some of my energy back after this really heavy jet lag.
I read this morning. “We find God, in the present moment, the eternal present. It is the present, where there are no lingering thoughts of the past or worries for the future, where we can be at peace with God.” Meister Eckhart
Being back here at the Monastery in St Ottilien, has allowed me to take a clean break from both the past and the future. There is only Now and Today.
In all honesty I have no idea where God is leading me. I have only chosen to be here, now, in the given moment. To give God two full weeks of my time to do with me what God wills. Whatever that may be. I am going “no where.” I am becoming “no one”.
Again this morning I enjoy the quiet in the big refectory that sits some hundred plus monks for meals. Early in the morning there are just a handful of monks who move in and out for breakfast. The conversations at the table are quiet if any, and very gentle. There seems to be little rush into anything today. I too can take it slow.
What a strange moment “NOW” is. There is the clanging of dishes and the sounds of the refectory. The NOW of light and shade that pervades the interior space from without. The NOW of the Mural of the Last Supper which oversees every meal at the monastery and covers an entire wall from top to bottom. Here in the refectory this scene with Jesus and his disciples at his last meal is a constant reminder that we are disciples of the Lord, and that we are here because we come to follow him, both from within and without.
There is the NOW of the bare trees trying to find their way into springtime, as they slowly burst forth into buds and leaf forms from their winters sleep.
Then the NOW of a warm cup of coffee and milk at breakfast, of fresh baked bread and homemade cheese and summer sausage. The NOW of aging monks with walkers, and wheelchairs, of limping and stumbling through each step with bumps on the head.
NOW is so sacred, and so easily forgotten. Eckhart writes. “It is necessary to get back to what God asks in the present moment.” It is in the NOW that we feel the energy of life surging through our body. The NOW where the mind focuses and then quickly drifts off into another time and place. The NOW of stillness both from within and from without.
Eckhart invites, “Invest yourself totally in the present moment, but for, and with me, this is the unique necessity. Live, the present instant for ME, with me, in me, that is what is necessity.”
In todays Gospel at Mass there is the NOW of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with costly perfume and drying the feet of Jesus with her hair.
A deeply sensual moment of intercourse between the intimates of Jesus only days before his betrayal and handing over. This is the NOW where Jesus can rest and be at peace with his closest friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus before the storm of passion and betrayal.
If we can find a small peace of our NOW during these sacred days of watching and waiting, let is be so. To look around us at the Lord who visits us in the Now.
In the moment……..
Now the hearing
Now the pow’r
Now the vessel brimmed for pouring
Now the body
Now the blood
Now the joyful celebration
Pic Refectory contemporary rendition of the Last Supper painted in 1984 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Monastery. (St Ottilien)