When we meet, the joy we share enriches us all. Not only do we pray and meditate together, we learn from each other, we support each other and we laugh a lot. Love is there. An oblate who was with us at our last gathering in July, wrote: ‘Yesterday was like water on parched grass to my soul’.

Our day spent together follows a pattern but as we entrust the day to the Holy Spirit, each one is different. Our theme for the day for our last meeting was Sharing our Spiritual Journey.

We began with a prayer, asking for the blessing of the Holy Spirit. We agreed to hold in our hearts those who could not be with us, mentioning by name people who had sent us their blessing and others of our community who were in need of special prayers. This was followed by a period of silent meditation.

We then had an in-depth sharing on Stability. This revealed a diversity of understanding. Many of the points raised were complementary and led to a richer overall view of the term and how we should apply it in our lives. Our reflection followed the lectio format, with each one saying in turn what they understood by Stability and then what it meant in their life now- without comment. Then each was invited to give the reason for what they had said, if they wanted to. A general discussion followed.

A convivial and delicious lunch was followed by lectio on two short passages from the Rule of St Benedict. Predictably this linked very neatly with our sharing on Stability. The passages we used were:

Don't get too involved in purely worldly affairs and count nothing more important than the love you should cherish for Christ. Don't let your actions be governed by anger nor nurse your anger against a future opportunity of indulging it. Don't harbour In your heart any trace of deceit nor pretend to be at peace with another when you are not; don't abandon the true standards of charity. Don't use oaths to make your point for fear of perjury but speak the truth with integrity of heart and tongue.

The first step of humility is to cherish at all times the sense of awe with which we should turn to God. It should drive forgetfulness away; it should keep our minds alive to all God's commandments.

The one word that has stayed with me from these passages is cherish. I believe we are being called upon to cherish each other more and I believe the best way to do this is to meet together.

In the afternoon Elba gave an excellent presentation regarding her own Oblate journey. She shared where she had come from - with some lovely illustrations of her own family background; where she is now - which she had analysed in some depth; and where she is going. I think everybody was humbled by the amount of thought and effort she had put into the presentation. Themes that clearly had importance for her journey centred around compassion, objectivity,coherence and the present moment. There was a balance between ‘giving’ and ‘receiving’ in both a religious and a non-religious sense.

We then read the following extract from an article by Fr Laurence:

Quoting psalms and the Wisdom literature as he often does, Benedict identifies seeking God with the goal of human life. That life does not cease to be human and viable once the goal is being pursued. When the ‘first fervour of conversion’ wears off your brethren no longer seem saints or even your best friends. Stability then is one of the vows Benedict defines and requires both physical and mental perseverance. He would have enjoyed the rabbinical saying ‘you are not obliged to succeed, but you are not allowed to give up’. But being Benedict, he knows that people will, and so gives the monk three strikes before he is out and not allowed to return.

We ended the day by using the shorter form of the office of Evening Prayer from the Benedictine Handbook including another session of meditation after the Magnificat.

Gilly Withers