I was reading this morning what Benedict says in his rule about the cellarer (the person in a benedictine community who distributes needed goods to members).  How mundane (and necessary)!  Benedict says that the cellarer is “to perform the duties of the office calmly” and that “necessary items are to be requested and given at the proper times, so that no one may be disquieted or distressed.”  I found myself thinking about Jesus, healing on the sabbath.  Is it right to do good or to do wrong on the sabbath?  The sabbath is a good thing.  But it can be used as an excuse to do harm, to refuse to help someone in need because we are following the rules.  How one gives the necessities of life (a good thing also) similarly can be done in ways that are healthy and helpful or in ways that cause harm to others.  Again, fussy rule keeping can be an excuse to harm others rather than to help them.  Joan Chittister suggests that the person with a Benedictine spirit “learns to err on the side of largesse of spirit.”

This is so counter cultural that I simply couldn’t resist.  It comes from Joan Chittister’s The Rule of Benedict:  A Spirituality for the 21st Century:

Rabbi Mordecai said, “If a single coin is left over in my house at bedtime, I cannot fall asleep.  But if totally penniless, I sleep soundly, knowing that when the moment comes to awaken, I must immediately look to the Lord for aid.”  And the rabbi of Porissover taught, “If a person is poor and meek, it is easy for that one to be joyful, inasmuch as there is nothing to guard against losing.”

… We live in a culture that sees having things as the measure of our success.  We strive for a life that sees eliminating things as a measure of internal wealth.  Enough-ness is a value long dead in Western society.

This is my sermon from July 3 (in Ft. Bragg):

Paul talks in our reading from Romans this morning about not being able to do the good that he wants to do, but doing evil he doesn’t want to do instead.  I’ve been thinking, since last week, about what it might mean to turn my life over to God and let Jesus live in me.  And I’m thinking, really, that these are just two sides of the same coin.  On my own, I always fall short and miss the target.  But when Jesus lives in me, suddenly that’s changed.

Some of you may be more familiar with the twelve step version:  admitting your life is out of your control and turning your life over to your higher power. (more…)

This past weekend I was able to spend on a Benedictine Weekend Retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch outside of Healdsburg, California.  Those of you who have been at similar events know that the bulk of my time was spent in prayer (mostly the daily offices).  The bulk of the time was also spent in silence.  By the end of the weekend, as we debriefed (one at a time) I felt like I could still hear an underlying silence even as each person spoke.  It was kind of nice. (more…)