The esteemed Bish (as in +Alan, as in Blog) visited us Aylesbury folkses last night to talk about St. Benedict. During the course of his presentation (which must have been half-decent because I have remembered this much at least), he posed the thorny question which sits as the lifetime conundrum for all clergy ...
...How do you make a monk explode?
He prefaced his answer by explaining that to make a chameleon explode you would have to plonk it on a tartan carpet. Clearly, a monk would not explode if placed upon a tartan ten-gauge - but rather as a result of the following scenario. Imagine the monastary bell tolling, calling the brethren to prayer. Bro Gardener is in the middle of planting a row of best Savoys, and has but one to plonk in the ground. Does he fulfill his community role or does he abandon the poor cabbage in favour of some Psalm-bashing? The correct answer is 'prefer nothing to Jesus', dump the rabbit food - one pureed monk-type.
Uncharacteristically for me, I went from a given presentation and engaged with it at home, and I opened my hitherto un-opened Rule of St. Benedict. It makes so much sense in so many ways and speaks to me of the considerable tension that I embody - the tension that priesthood makes manifest in the correct balance of 'being' and 'doing'.
I am conspicuously a 'doing' type of fella, and find 'being' tough. So, in order to make this Farv explode, ask him spend time 'being' in Church when a million emails, half a million sermons, a website and a partridge in a pear tree need attending to, and that require him to ride his Dell like a medieval lady of the night. Pop; splat. The church loses and the emails get ...erm, 'follow-up flagged'!
Seriously, there were a couple of things from the presentation that have left their imprint (two more than the whole of my last year at college [my fault, not college's]) - the first being 'prefer nothing to Jesus', and the second '....he should so regulate everything that the strong may desire to carry more, and the weak are not afraid' (referring to the Abbot). With a comprehensive course on Leadership just around the corner and a considerable management experience behind me, I recieve this wisdom in the spirit of an 'Epiphany moment' - bloody marvellous.
Now all I need to do is igonore the copious 'dry-slaps' that naughty monks are required to recieve upon their hides. St. Benedict was a sod for a 'car-park chat', wasn't he ... !?