Text ©brittarnhild and Sr. Miriam
Images © Turvey Abbey
When I decided to write about lent in my Norwegian blog this year, I sent an email to my dear friend, Sr. Miriam at Turvey Abbey, the monastery north of London where I have been several times, asking her to share some of her experiences of how they celebrate lent in the monastery. A few days ago I got Sr. Miriam´s post. I am going to translate it into Norwegian and post it on Blåklokkeveien, but I have also asked Sr. Miriam´s permission to share her original English words here with you.
The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.
Rule of St Benedict Chapter 49
I’ve been living according to the Rule of St Benedict for more than 20 years and each year these words both challenge and inspire me. They are tough words. These words were written with a particular community in mind, a community of ordinary human beings who were trying their best to seek God in a monastery. In the rest of the chapter St Benedict explains how he understands the season of Lent, he says; ‘we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times.’
During Lent, one of the ways in which we are helped to ‘wash away the negligences’ is by listening with our whole hearts to God’s word in communal and personal prayer. During Lent we listen to the Book of Exodus. I always look forward to this. I find myself in the story and I am challenged to allow God to provide ‘the manna, the water and the quails’ that I need for my monastic journey.
St Benedict recommended that his monks should be given a book to read during Lent. We still keep this practice in the monastery. This year I am reading The Didache by Tom O’Loughlin. (The Didache is an early Christian text, thought to be written in the First Century. It is like a ‘handbook’ for Christian living. I am enjoying the academic style and am finding much to think about. Another book that is proving to be a great spiritual tool for me is: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo is an expert in de-cluttering and her method is potentially life changing. During Lent I have tackled various areas in my room and the results are wonderful!
During Lent we also have a little extra time for prayer and creative activities. I like to try a new craft or to work on an on-going project. This year I have been inspired by ideas I have found on Pinterest for using old magazines.
I made a cross to send to a friend who works as a teacher in London.
It is traditional to fast during Lent. In practice, this can be rather hard to arrange in a monastery. We are of varying ages and have very different metabolisms. We try to eat simply and to enjoy what we have. Of course, there are several feast days in our calendar and so we really appreciate something special on those days.
At the heart of Lent is the desire to have God at the centre of our lives. Our time spent in prayer, or trying to fast, or in doing some small act of kindness brings us closer to the God we seek and to the new light of Easter. At the end of the journey of Lent we are ready to sing with St Augustine, ‘We are an EASTER people and ALLELUIA is our song.’
Thank you Sr. Miriam for your thoughts and thanks for letting me share them here.
I had to laugh when you write that you read Marie Kondo´s book though. I have never read it, but read about it in a newspaper a few weeks ago. And wrote this post:
Å faste fra eller å faste til
May be I should read the book, and get some new ideas myself :-)
By the way, your cross is beautiful. Next time I come to Turvey you must teach mw how to make it.