(Scripture Is 42:1-6/Rule of Benedict 7:55)
Todays readings talk about following a common rule and the example of the elders. When I think of the rules that guide my behavior I realize that my parents somehow instilled in me and my siblings directives for living that came not so much from book learning but from their living example. Yes, we did learn the 10 commandments and how to read the bible, but we also learned the corporal works of mercy of which my mother, it turns out, was an expert. Guidelines were very clear even thought I don’t know that we read them anywhere. If someone was in need, my mother taught us to give to the point of sacrifice and beyond. Food,clothing,money, though scarce in our family, were shared with anyone we knew of who was in need. This upset me as a child when I had to go without but it made a point that has remained with me: Give until it’s uncomfortable – and I’ll be Ok if I don’t have everything I “want”. That’s not what’s important. Adults were in charge of stewarding the family community and the children were the students. There was a lot of wisdom in her ways. I think it was that my mother knew what it was to go without. This seemed to increase her empathy and mercy toward other kindred souls. She also frequently told us God gave everything – including his son for us. These things rubbed off on us. We learned very practically the difference between a need and a want. It didn’t need to be taught from a book – we lived it and so it was internalized. Now that I am a parent I see how hard it is to teach these lessons.