The 'fall' came very late this year after the very hot summer weather and dry autumn. So we have just got rid of the leaves and have also made a start on clearing our surplus junk hidden away in various parts of the monastery. Tomato boxes never to be used again, clothing attacked by moth and mould in some attic place, useless bits and pieces thought at the time of storing to be useful for the future.
We are preparing the end which will lead us to a new beginning. In May next year we shall not be here in the monastery. So what philosophy of life can sustain such a change? People do construct a modus vivendi as they go along or at least when they meet an obstacle that will change their direction. But one has a sneaking feeling that more is somehow required to enable us to be happily going forward into a future different from the one we have been used to. Is there such a possibility of assurance or at least of intuitive direction?
The remarkable thing about some of the New Testament writers is their assurance in circumstances which were deplorable and dangerous. Scorned as 'atheists' according to the State religion of the Empire, death by torture was a real possibility if they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But whatever the circumstances in which they found themselves they insisted that the only Lord they could acknowledge was Jesus who had been raised from the dead. They suffered the loss of all things, like Paul, who said
'I press on because Christ Jesus has made me his own. One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.'
Perhaps a more astonishing feature of this Christian way that enables us to press on in faith is that it is not powered by ourselves but through our relationship with God in Jesus. In the friendship with Jesus the Lord it is a drawing of love, what the New Testament writers call 'grace' - a free gift of new life.
As T.S. Eliot goes on to say in Little Gidding,
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration ......