By Jasmine, SSJD Companion.
Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. (The Rule of Benedict)
At the beginning of this year, most of my friends teased me saying I was like Maria from the movie “The Sound of Music” as like her, I sing, play the guitar and was on my way to live in a convent. With fear and joy, I accepted this invitation from God to experience monastic life for 11 months. It is hard to believe that my programme at SSJD is coming to an end. This has been a grace filled journey where reconciliation and patience are constant and live in fullness with the whole community.
The word “listen” can conclude my year. When I was an elementary school student, my teacher always emphasized how we write the Chinese character for the word “listen” (聽). The symbol consists of an ear (耳), an eye(目), and a heart(心), meaning that we are hearing others not only with our ears, but also observing with our eyes and paying attention with our hearts. Similarly, St. Benedict also asks us to listen in the beginning in the rule, and to pay attention with our ears and heart. The ancient wisdom invites us to go deeper into the ocean of faith by listening. My experiences with listening are also reflected through different relationships.
I find that during my private prayer as well as the community’s public worship time, I have more space to reflect on my relationship with God. It is hard to listen when my feet and hands go faster than my ears and heart, especially when I always want to prove my worthiness by doing something. I want to be loved, and I do not even realize how I can receive love from others and from God. In silence and patience, the Holy Spirit gradually leads me to meditate on who God is and who I am and enjoys being in the moment with God and myself. When I know who I am and when I know that my worthiness is under God’s grace, I can truly follow Christ on the path of self-sacrifice.
This year was not only about my relationship with God, but also my connection with the community and how all these relationships are intertwined together in the house of God. It takes time and patience to listen to others’ needs, and it may not always be pleasant but within this blessed community, it is about knowing each other and being the companion for each other on our pilgrimage. By paying attention with our whole being during our work, play and praying, we discover God’s grace in every moment of our lives.
There were times that I wanted to give up listening because it means that I have to face all the risks in life and relationships and become vulnerable. Fortunately and by God’s grace, I have made it to the end of this programme and am becoming more of a human being by taking care of myself and others in a holistic way. God has called us; will you take up your cross and follow? May the light of the Holy Spirit lead us.”