«Monasticism is a great mystery of God.»
(Saint Ignatius Bryanchaninov)
Outside, the wind is blowing. The golden leaves are twisting in the air as they fall slowly to the ground. It is late autumn. Nature is turning gloomy and grey, and faint feelings of grief are entering the hearts of many. We sense that something dear and precious is slipping through their fingers. We wish to hold on to it at all costs to remain whole and keep our worth.
Yet I am not writing about the fall as a season of despair. I wish to find in every moment a reason for hope and joy. Monastics know how to see the joy and where to find happiness. The Lord shows them the way; they are privy to the mystery of Christ and are the brides of Jesus. We take the path of monasticism, and the inner workings of our souls become a mystery for others. The Lord takes care to hide them from everybody's view. He shrouds in silence a monastic’s battles, prayers, pains and exploits.
Monastics are people who fend for themselves. They go it alone and ascetise out of everybody’s view. Monasticism, like death and many other things in the world, is experienced alone. In monasticism, we learn the skill of obedience and make it a normal part of our lives, our nature.
It takes a deep change of heart to learn to live in agreement with the will of God. In our hearts, we embrace this new life as a gift from God. He offers it to us so we will accept it gratefully - like the soil accepts the seeds and yields the crop; like it soaks in the rain, and absorbs the sun; like it relishes the soft breeze and accepts a raging storm. The Lord gives us the freedom to say, “I am Your handmaid, O Lord; and may Your will be done unto me”. We say so with gratefulness for our lives, our past, present and future. With gratefulness comes the understanding and acceptance of many things. The bitterness and pain disappear without a trace. We see His light and hear the soft steps of the eternity coming near.
He takes us flying to dizzying heights, where the air is thin and it is difficult to breathe. Yet we stay up there, above the time and space. It is only us and the Creator in eternity, our departure from the earth and our resurrection. Sometimes, we get to have the taste of the air from Heavenly Jerusalem and keep fond memories of these moments as long as we live.
He is the One Who brings light into our hearts. He is our Rabbani, Our Teacher Who meets us halfway. He is the One who cares, and Who is hard at work To bring salvation to our souls. He is bearing the cross of mankind amid the steep mountains, high up in the air and in the depth of hearts. This journey will culminate in great pain and hardships but will reward us with the great triumph of overcoming. In moving and touching moments, it opens up to us that there is no other way but to follow God - walking or crawling - to where we will stand face to face with Him on Judgement Day. The things of this world become irrelevant and a thing of the past. Matters of the spirit will come to the top. And Christ will come to the centre.
"Do you love me," He will ask us like He asked Apostle Peter. “Do you love me?”