It is rose time in the UK - and the Wimbledon tennis championships! We have had a week without rain and so the roses are really blooming and then disappearing quite quickly before we can catch them on digital format. This year the seasons really do seem to have been a bit out of joint with hot and cold spells alternating all through the Spring and early Summer. In addition we have had sudden gluts with our tomato crop and then, because of bad light, a spell of very few tomatoes!
With our continuing life here in the monastery these variations are at once highlighted but also kept in their place. 'The daily round, the common task' as with everyone else, subsumes the hiccups and next day is another day! But it is also another day of Christian worship and prayer in that context. We do not have any pastoral work as Cistercian monks. We remain here - very domesticated you might say, but also focussed on the goal for which we were called here. That is, response to Christ in this particular way of discipleship, which is not a medieaval revival from the past but a genuine offshoot of 'gospel' which throughout the history of the church has found women and men living in this particular way of life and worship.
All Christians are called and everyone hopes to respond to the call of Christ as she or he is enabled. This makes a great difference to life. There is a resilience for each person in mind and heart which, while not being shielded from the pains of life and the disappointments, yet enables the individual to be positively engaged in the face of contraries. This is not, again, simply an individual, pietist affair, as if devout religion could put to rout the anguish of living. The Christian calling is rooted in the Christian community responding in worship and commitment to Christ the Lord.
The individual is sent out from there to be a witess - to be an icon of the Christ to whom he or she is committed. So the dominion of God grows throughout the centuries and years and moments of our civilisation. The 'whole' story, or 'history' is in the hands of the God and Father of Jesus whose character, as Jesus revealed it, is one of love and justice and freely given reconciliation. The beauty we see in many human endeavours today, despite the cynicism of much reported news, is reflected in the marvellous colours and shapes of the simple rose and a foretaste of the completion of God's will for all nations. Alleluia!