I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Keren Dibbens-Wyatt's reflection Shining for God.
I may not be a Catholic, but I have had the honour, once or twice, of adoring the Christ as he is held within the monstrance. One particular time, sitting in the Cloister Chapel at Aylesford Priory, this was quite overwhelming. It was heart-warming and awe-inspiring, and my soul sang inside me even as I kept silence and held gaze with the moon-wafer in the golden sun.
It felt for those precious minutes like everything in the world was pointing to that host, that Christ, whether represented or incarnate there (it didn’t seem to matter to me which, though it felt like both), the very bread of heaven, was the only thing in the universe.
When we gaze at Christ in adoration, lost in wonder, awe and some knowledge of his beauty and grace, we are lost indeed. We are becoming smaller and he greater, and we are also, if we stay long enough, feeling a pull to unity with those equally lost in love within our congregations, our neighbourhoods, and asking what our tiny hearts can do to praise him, to worship him, to point the way to him. We cannot partake of this divine joy without also wishing it for others. This love cannot not be shared, not be lauded, we want it both for ourselves and for everyone. There is no danger of there not being enough to go around, as we might imagine with the love of our own frail hearts, the very idea, once we begin to get to know love, is laughable.
And when we come back down to earth, indeed, when we find our experience of love has made us more part of this earth than we could have dreamt, in solid rootedness, our question of how we can live out that love is answered thus: Love one another. And so to love God and do his bidding, we come together to serve him by serving one another, and in this his own love shines and he becomes and remains the centre of everything.
“Love one another” then is the job of every monk in the world. But it could stand, in the light of day, when we are in the kitchen wondering what we came in for, exasperated by ourselves, our significant other, or the kids or grandkids playing up, some explanation. Because it is easy to imagine that love is some kind of wishy-washy, airy-fairy, pie-in-the-sky lovely feeling, something akin to what I felt in the chapel, but you know, watered down, because after all, this is real life.
And if we start to dilute it, this is our first step away from love. For we do not get to give ourselves nor those around us second best, for Jesus said, “. . . Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 ESV) For myself, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to pull myself back to what God means, is to find the Christ in everyone, myself included, and treat them accordingly. I think it is going to take the rest of my life to practise. I think I am going to continue to make some mistakes. I know that there have been and are people in whom my judgemental sight is going to struggle to see anything remotely good, let alone Christ-like. And yet, I also know that I entertain angels unawares, that what I do for the least of these is what I do for him. So, continuing to develop that sight is going to be imperative.
And how does such love play itself out, become real, in the day to day business of life? I think in the end, Blessed Mother Teresa had the best advice. She said that no matter how we were treated in return, we must always be kind. Part of this will be always try to see things from the other person’s perspective. And we must be very, very slow to condemn. So slow that we never get there. Kindness begins in our hearts, or it will not flourish. We cannot mean to be kind from our minds alone, this way we shall make the mistake of meaning well and causing harm. Kindness, sister-kindred of Love, is an attitude that becomes action, a small seed that grows into compassion.
One of the worst mistakes I know I will continue to make as I try to live love, is thinking that everyone is like me, and needs the same kind of loving acts and words that I do. So, birthed in kindness, the first thing I imagine that real love does, is that it listens; it pays attention, and it keeps notes. To love someone we need to take the time to discover how they tick, find out what lifts their heart, what to them is beauty, grace and truth. And we offer them love in a form they can embrace, in a way that can mirror Jesus.
For in the end, we are the monstrances. We are where the living host chooses to make his home, and we are the place the Light of the World shines from, reflecting him into each hungry heart. We each decrease in every way except loving service, egos cracking apart, and as we do so his Body increases and coheres. Praise God!
Keren Dibbens-Wyatt is a mystic in the Christian tradition with a passion for prayer and creativity. She writes and paints to encourage others into deeper relationships with the Lord. You can find Keren’s books on Amazon and Lulu or connect with her on these websites: