Like many of you, global events lately feel quite overwhelming ... and I ponder and pray about my response. One thing I keep coming back to is a sense of deep certainty that the way of the monk and path of the artist make a difference in the world. What distinguishes these two ways of being is that each are called to live deliberately on the edges of things, in active resistance to a world that places all its value on speed and productivity, that reduces people to producers and consumers, and reduces the earth to a commodity for our use. The longer I follow this path in my life, the more I consider hospitality to be one of the most essential of all the monk’s wisdom. To practice actively welcoming in what is most strange or other in my world as the very place of divine encounter – what St Benedict tells us in the Rule – is a holy challenge! But in a world where otherness sparks so much fear and policies which further divide us, learning to embrace the gift of the stranger, both within our own hearts, as well as in the world is a true balm.
As a musician - and very secular monk - Painter's words articulate how I strive to live. I paraphrased them at band practice, too as we prepare to play some open mics and gigs in the region. My summary: in this age of violence and anxiety, we have been invited to offer an alternative born of trust, tenderness and beauty. I once spoke of these qualities as an antidote to the hatred and was scolded as being too binary: there will always be evil I was told - and we must never assume we have a monopoly upon wisdom. True enough. Jean Vanier said much the same thing in this morning's meditation:
So maybe the music is not an antidote. It is, however, a clear alternative. We spent five hours honing these new songs. And at the close of the day, it was exhilarating albeit exhausting. On Thursday we'll take the show out for a trial run to see how others respond. It will be good to actually play before a crowd.