Revealed to the little ones

See At The Edge of the Enclosure
Proper 9 (year A) “take my yoke”

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to the little ones*; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  – Matthew 11:25-26

[*sometimes translated infants, or “babes”. I thought of using the latter translation but decided it might not be PC and discreet in this context, seeing how the interns are so lovely and beautiful.]

Tacuinum Sanitatis, Beets

Some people possess a good sense of time. They know it is 6:00 or 6:05 or 6:20 without looking at their watch. They wake up right on time no matter what season or angle of light alters the ambiance of their bedroom. The particular sister assigned to ringing the bell has many gifts, but not a good sense of time.

The sisters asked me to talk with the interns about arriving to chapel on time, especially for meditation at 8:00 a.m. which the community observes after two hours of working in the garden. “You’ll have to bring a watch into the garden,” I told the interns. “And allow time to put away your tools, clean up, go to the bathroom, get a drink of water and prepare for chapel.”

The Rule of St. Benedict says, “On hearing the signal for an hour of the divine office, the monk will immediately set aside what he has in hand and go with utmost speed, yet with gravity (dignity) and without giving occasion for frivolity.  Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work Of God.” Drop your tool when the bell rings. Stop writing the letter in mid-sentence. Turn around on the path to the dumpster and walk toward the chapel. As tempting as it is to do one more thing – take out those last three weeds on the row of carrots, finish the last paragraph of the letter, empty the trashcan –  the call to prayer takes precedence.

“This is different from ‘out there’,” said one of the interns. “We want the sisters to think we’re doing our best, so we work right up to the bell and then get ready for chapel! And there’s not enough time between the bell and chapel to get ready.”

In a typical American office, you do arrive before the work bell and leave long after. Management uses “speedup” techniques for piling more work on existing employees, rather than hiring enough workers to do the job correctly and sanely. And if the boss doesn’t extract double or triple levels of productivity, most of us feel compelled to provide it anyway.

But here, you cultivate a sense of time outside of time to prepare for the acts of worship and prayer. Nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God. You prepare by praying alone in the garden during early morning work and then by sensing it is time to get  ready for praying together. You move from one mode of prayer to another, keeping track of time, preparing in one way and then the next, developing an interior timepiece for expressing modes of divine relationship. After all, you can’t necessarily depend upon the bell.

The Rebbe of Tsanz was asked by a Chasid: What does the Rabbi do before praying? I pray, was the reply, that I may be able to pray properly.

One Response to “Revealed to the little ones”

  1. Chris Says:

    This is such wonderful meditation on the rhythm I felt in my brief time with you all this spring. I left imagining how the world would be transformed by that kind of time. The essence of the wonder of it all. Thank you, Suzanne!

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