When a message is repeated over and over – listen! What do I mean by a message? You read about a topic, it comes up in conversations, you see a social media post that resonates with how you are feeling, etc. I am sure this has happened to each of you and you know what I mean.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about rest, taking time when prompted, to listen to the voice within that begs us to just sit down a minute and be still. I started writing about the topic again last week, but then the blog went another direction because of the amazing sunset I saw and the desire to reflect on the sacredness of threshold places, in which we might experience a different level of awareness and closeness to God. To experience those moments, you have to slow down and pause.
Last Saturday’s daily gospel was the scripture from Mark 6:30-34 that I quoted in my initial blog regarding rest. “The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” The Twelve had been watching and learning from Jesus as he cast out demons, healed and restored life. He sent them out with a similar message to teach and heal. As they returned, they were probably excited, overwhelmed, tired, surprised and anxious to share with Jesus what they had accomplished in his name. Jesus acknowledged what they had done and then encouraged them to rest.
This week the daily gospel readings in Mark continued with Jesus performing miracle after miracle. The crowds grew and people continued to seek Jesus, to learn from him and to bring people to him for healing. Saturday’s gospel, this weekend, was one of the gospel accounts of Jesus feeding thousands by the multiplication of fish and loaves. His heart was “moved with pity” for them. He fed them and then sent them home. Jesus then, along with the apostles got in a boat and left.
This year our Oblate group is studying the Benedictine virtue of hospitality. St. Benedict clearly directs us in The Rule that all should be welcomed as Christ (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 53). This month’s study surprised (and delighted) me, we looked at Hospitality to Self. We studied the chapters of The Rule, and commentaries, on The Reception of Guests (chapter 53), The Reception of Visiting Monastics (chapter 61) and The Porter of the Monastery (chapter 66. Yes, St. Benedict even provided guidelines for the type of person who should answer the door and how it should be answered.) We also read from chapter or “Week 2 – Welcoming Ourselves” from Boundless Compassion by Joyce Rupp and “The Humility of Self-Compassion”, an article by oblate Becky Van Ness published in Oblate News, Saint Benedict’s Monastery (Fall 2015).
Joyce Rupp points out that there are numerous accounts in the Gospels that show that Jesus took time to step away from his teaching and healing to pray or rest. He also leaves places that reject him or seek to harm him. By his example we learn that self compassion is not self absorption, and focus on the self, despite the needs of others. Jesus attended to their needs. But, he also knew when it was time to step back. It requires, Joyce suggests, more than just stopping the inner critical voices that keep telling us we need to give more, be more, care more. We “ask for the grace to change our relationship with that inner critic” states Becky Van Ness. Both authors offer for our consideration, each in their own way, that as we take time to love and care for ourselves, we will have more love to offer out to the world.
This week let’s take a look at moments that we might benefit from a bit of self compassion. Instead of blaming ourselves for the hundreds of times we don’t get it right (according to our inner critic), can we pause a moment, as we might with a friend, to offer a word of encouragement? Perhaps we can greet ourselves as needed during the day, borrowing from The Rule and the guidelines for the porter of the monastery, and offer a warm and welcoming verbal embrace saying “Thanks be to God” or “your blessing please”.
Wishing you peace this week, Deena
What is a Benedictine Oblate? I’ve attached a link to the Sisters of St. Benedict, St. Mary Monastery, in Rock Island, IL. This is the monastery that I am an Oblate of. You can visit most Benedictine monastery websites and learn about their Oblate affiliate programs.
Oblates of St. Benedict Monastery, St. Joseph, Minnesota
You might be interested to learn that the multiplication of fish and loaves is found six times in the four synoptic gospels, that is, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is the only miracle that is consistently reported in all four of the gospels. Hospitality – Welcoming the Stranger by Catherine Upchurch