The Cloister Walk
Kathleen Norris
February 9, 2021

Questions up front – mostly rhetorical but still worthy of contemplation.

  1. What is it that prevents us from embracing community and draws many of us to depend on personal wealth?

+ Note, I am guilty too.
+ I feel the dominant thing that drives us to amassing personal wealth is a sense of fear. I sense we fear not having enough (whatever that means); we fear disappointing or discounting our predecessors who instilled a work ethic and the mantra that “productivity is next to nothing.”
+ An apology can be found in the realist claim that unless all buy into the usefulness of community health through community wealth, that system doesn’t work as intended.
+ While not simply an apology or a dismissal, there is practical experience that any system is only as successful as the least faithful member.
+ The difficulty of community health through community wealth may be a reality, it is worth remembering that there is utility (usefulness) in focusing on community wealth, or at least realizing that some of our personal wealth is better served in our communities and not in our pockets.

* There is a certain oddity of and in community. A community can be supportive and burden-sharing. But that community can be that “ever-present” and empower a sacrifice-of-self response to the detriment of the individual. A community can be more resilient and allow for redemption of individuals. But that same community can breed jealousy if allowed to go off on its own devices.

* Reflection about Dixieland jazz: Norris posits that it “seemed the most Benedictine, the most communal of ventures. Each individual in the band is recognized as such and is required to play a solo, but not to improvise so much that the others are left out. The band begins and ends together.” Like, everyone goes where they are led but no one wanders off.

* Basil the Great’s rule includes private and communal prayer; manual work; care for the needy; contemplation; and action.

* Much of Basil’s rule of life tries to remind us that God has given abundantly to all the basic needs of life… to be shared in common to all. Not that we should amass private wealth but fund community vitality.

** If we allow it, our connection to God runs deep. If we feel that connection and the intrinsic love of that connection, we can weather life and each other.