Tuesday, November 24, 2009
In reading "Clowning in Rome" this week I came across a section on the depth of celibacy, not as the act of being physically set apart, but having an empty and ready space to receive, hold and distribute the love of God. The author spoke about a community that treasured their time away, their "empty" space. He writes:
"They made it very clear to me that friendship is very important to them, but they have to learn... to keep seeing their relationships with each other in the context of their common call...
They have to be willing to let new developments... separtate them.... be willing to see their separtaions as an invitation to deepen their relationship with their first Love, the Lord, and then through the Spirit of the Lord with each other.... Together, committed to protect the empty space in and between each other." ~Nouwen
I instantly thought about my "sisters". We all have our space. No one is pushed in or out of it. The Abbey is not a place where we will all live for long. Marriage, work, school and other opportunities come along and change the dynamics. We cannot hold on to our friendships too tightly and try to fill them with the business of our lives and leave little room for the work of Christ. Nouwen used the example of celibacy being like old churches in the middle of Rome, "The churches of Rome are like beautiful frames around empty spaces witnessing to the One who is the quiet, still, center of all human life."
I sit typing in my room while Sister K plays and sings by the fire, ashes mingling under her socks. Sister K.D. finally snuggles into bed with Alli while Sister E, props her feet up and reads over notes for tomorrows class. We each have our space in which Christ wants to speak to us. Its precious and some how we know that we each need it. My empty space, my quiet time away from them has been guarded by them. I am so grateful.
(I highly recommend the book! Clowning in Rome by Henri J.M. Nouwen)