If I were to pick two words to sum-up this Lent and my YAV year overall, it would be 'being' and 'grace.'
Being. This is something that I think everyone struggles with.
Just be yourself, right? But how does one begin to 'be'?
Making this even harder is that our interactions with other people are often based primarily around doing. Even when we meet someone, our first question is all too often, 'what do you do?'
While you can learn a lot about a person's interests by knowing what they do for a living, the question, at its most basic level, often implies that we must do something to begin to have an identity.
The YAV program though encourages volunteers to simply 'be' first and then 'do.'
This was brought full circle on the Monday of Holy week.
The YAVs visited a Benedictine monastery in Rostrevor, about an hour south of Belfast, and we attended the morning Eucharist service.
The homily was given by a Presbyterian minister, the brothers' chanting was absolutely beautiful, and it was truly an international service as five of the monks are French, one is Mexican, and the head of the monastery is Northern Irish.
We had the pleasure of talking with one of the French brothers after lunch time, and he talked about his journey to becoming a monk. His comment that stuck out the most to me was the fact that he could be a monk without being a priest, but he could not be a priest without being a monk. The focus of monks are to be - to be in community, specifically. And within that community, they are called to create a space of mutual respect and acceptance.
And this is where 'grace' comes in.
As part of being present with yourself and with other human beings, one needs grace.
Grace that accepts people just as they are, not needing feats of great accomplishment to receive praise. Rather, as Mr Rogers would suggest, you are liked just the way you are.
And it is through this grace, particularly this grace that we sang about on Easter Sunday, that we can begin to be in community with each other.
The Benedictine community is not a space for self-gratification, but rather the glorifying of God by simply being yourself, a child of God.
Simply put, just as much as we need God's grace, we also need to have our own grace for one another. To 'be' one must first have 'grace.'
So with this understanding of 'being' and 'grace,' I head off this weekend for EBM's weekend away up on the North Coast. White Park Bay, here we come!
But first, the royal wedding is indeed tomorrow. I will be helping serve at the 'royal banquet' being put on at EBM's cafe. It should be an experience.
Then this Monday, it's time to walk the marathon!
Courtesy of my simple lifestyle this year and having the pleasure of walking everywhere (except for occasional public transportation), I hope to survive the challenge.
I, one of my flatmates, and the Northern Ireland site coordinator will all be walking it together. One of my flatmates is part of a team running different legs of the marathon, and my other flatmate is running the whole thing. Heck yes Bathgate residents!
Hope you all enjoy the royal wedding, and maybe lift up a few prayers for me this Monday... The race starts at 9 a.m., and I am hoping that we will have crossed the finish line before 4 p.m.
In grace and peace, may you simply 'be' this Easter season.