“The truly happy person(s),,,,, are like a tree replanted by streams of water which bears fruit as just the right time and whose leaves don’t fade. Whatever they do succeeds.” (Psalm 1:1a, 3. The Common English Bible).
The Benedictine Vow of Conversion of Manners (also called Conversion of Life) is directly related to the other two which are Stability and Obedience. Stability is a grounding of oneself into God and those with whom one shares their life. All the masks come off. We are made stable by letting go of our defenses and trusting in God to guide us forward. The Vow of Conversion is about allowing the God to whom we have vowed stability to change us by the manners of others around us. Obedience is about our response to God out of love, not fear. (See 1 John 4:18)
A tree that can no longer bear fruit dries up in the parched soil in which it is rooted. It’s branches and trunk can become very hallow. At that point there are two options. Tear down the tree and burn it, or, uproot it and replant it by streams of water. When option two is used, the tree can be nourished and made healthy again. The branches and trunk fill in with new life, nurtured by the moisture. The leaves can grow on the tree once again, and delicious fruit that can feed people and/or animals. There is new life in the tree, and it is happy once again.
God really does want us to be happy people. God knows that life can really stink because of a job we no longer enjoy, the death of a loved one and the grief we experience, the loss of becoming disabled. God knows all of these things. Often when we are grieving or unhappy, God is there helping us to heal things that we did not even know were wounded. However, we cannot grow in a deeper relationship with God through our suffering and sadness if we don’t allow God to uproot us from where we are, and replant us by streams of living water; flowing from the grace of God.
Contemplative prayer becomes more powerful when we let go of ourselves as best as we can, to let God uproot us from our dryness. God wants to draw us into the wondrous mystery of God’s loving mercy that is so amazing, that the only thing that matters is God. When we spend time in solitude and silence, we can accept where we are and turn ourselves over so that the Holy Spirit can move us to a life-giving state of being; where God can draw us into our true-selves, and find God’s truth waiting for us there.
“See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English. The Prologue. p.16 vs. 20).
Will you allow God to replant you by God’s living stream, so you can be a truly happy person today?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB