Thursday, July 27, 2006

Living in community

Today, while I was looking for another book on my shelves, I came across a little volume I've had for many years. It's called Rule for a New Brother and it's the very beautiful community rule of a Dutch order of religious brothers.

Even if we're not monks or nuns, we can benefit from such a rule. We all live in community - even if we literally live alone. Human beings are social animals and we need each other in order to survive. Here's a lovely little passage that encourages us to cultivate a graciousness in our dealings with others while letting go of ego gratification:

Give instead of demanding,
trust others instead of compelling their trust,
serve instead of being served,
bless instead of cursing.
And be sure that when you have done
all things well
you will still be an unprofitable servant.

So be attentive to the others,
not in order to dominate or exploit them
but to work for their happiness
discreetly and effectively
and to build them up
in all the riches of faith and love.
And you, accept from your companion
the help you need.

Be thankful for the variety of gifts
and difference of personality.
When you put your own potential
and insights at the service of your community
your unity will grow stronger and richer,
and together you will create that spaciousness
which finds room for everyone.

I really like the encouragement that we are to work for each other's happiness and that we are to accept help when needed. It's interesting that those two admonitions are expressed together. Both giving and receiving help are basic to mutual happiness, aren't they? When we refuse help or when we accept it with resentment, we are actually depriving another of the joy of giving.

1 comment:

  1. A friend once told me to "cultivate the generosity of the recipient".

    Kindness takes many forms, including accepting what others give to you with gratitude.


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