Stepping into Reality

Thank God for monasteries 🙂

Have you noticed how technological culture uproots us from what is ‘given’? The way of technology is to control, manipulate, grasp. It becomes the way of all our thinking and doing. And you only realise this when you step out (as far as you can) from this constructed reality.

I spent last week at Stanbrook Abbey in Yorkshire. The monastic life flows with reality, with creation, with ‘givenness’ – and not against it. Last week I found myself noticing the different times of the day – dawn, morning brightness, afternoon glow, sunset, pitch black starlit sky. I never normally notice these things. I am controlled more by alarm clocks and schedules that are entirely separate from what is happening outside.

The Liturgy of the Hours marking various points through the day has an objectivity to it, which renders everything else you are doing relative. You break away from it to pray the Psalms. The worship of God is fixed and unchanging. Time is something whose passage you reverence, rather than a reality you control.

It is a life that reminds you – God is unfathomable mystery, the universe is vast, and I have my place in it. That is all.

To the generation that wants to trail-blaze and change the world, this reality is eye-watering, it is breathtaking.

What freedom in this reality… How amazing it is to be. I found myself walking through silent forests, startling pheasants, and tramping through mud. Hearing birdsong and smelling fire and seeing crimson leaves like I’d never even noticed colour before. And the greatest thing about being, is being loved.

I found that when I am unplugged from technology, schedules, to-do lists… there is more of me for God to love. And there’s more of me to receive it. And how insignificant everything else seems.

How much he created us for this! And how much must he love it when we allow ourselves to be and to be loved!

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3 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    Praise the Lord and thank you Hannah for sharing this. Blessings from Belfast.

  2. Julia Blencowe says:

    I envy you! I know how lovely the new Stanbrook is.

  3. Peter Collins says:

    I recently spent a week at Douai Abbey and I came away with very similar feelings to you.
    Our monasteries and convent’s are such wonderful spiritual power stations Just by being there they enrich our church and our world, but how much more we can be blest and fed if we go and spend time in them.

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