“Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset. But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run the path of Gods commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.” (RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English. The Prologue, vs.48,49. p.19).
The saying is more true than we like to admit; the first step is the hardest one. We live in an era of procrastination due to all of the things we put in the way of the important things in life. There is an email to read, a Facebook wall to look over, a job task, a place to go; that takes up our time and energy. So, we put off that difficult conversation we really need to have with a member of the family or a dear friend. “There’s always tomorrow.”
As we celebrate the beginning of Lent on this Ash Wednesday, we read in 2 Corinthians 6:2b, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” Today and at this moment we can take that first step towards a deeper relationship with God. The beginning is always the most difficult. St. Benedict wrote The Rule for beginners. He knows that when we begin something we see all the obstacles in our way, including but not limited to ourselves. St. Benedict and St. Paul tell us to not be afraid and run away. We are beginning again on a new day, a new season in which we can contemplate and walk on a new path towards real personal freedom in God’s unfathomable mercy.
What I love about what St. Benedict wrote in this quote from the Prologue is his assurance that the road itself is a means of progress. It is a progress that will deepen our awareness of God that “our hearts [will be] overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love”. It means that no matter how difficult taking that first step is, once we do take it; the love of God and our neighbor will pour out of us and give the new life of a holy Easter with a joy that we will not be able to contain.
May God bless you as we begin Lent today.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB