I am struck by some people who want to enter community. Their energies are so taken up by this objective that they are unable to hear the cry of the poor and to see those near them who need their attention, their love and their presence. Their desire to enter community seems to blind them. The best way for them to prepare for community life is to love and be present to those near them. Then the passage to life in community will come quite naturally.
On a dark night
Kindled in love with yearnings—
Oh, happy chance!—
I went forth unobserved,
My house being now at rest.
- St. John of the Cross
How does one hush one’s house,
each proud possessive wall, each sighing rafter,
the rooms made restless with
or wounding echoes, the permissive doors,
the stairs that vacillate from up to down,
windows that bring in color and event
from countryside or town,
oppressive ceilings and complaining floors?
The house must first of all accept the night.
Let it erase the walls and their display,
impoverish the rooms till they are filled
with humble silences; let clocks be stilled
and all the selfish urgencies of day.
Midnight is not the time to greet a guest.
Caution the doors against both foes and friends,
and try to make the windows understand
their unimportance when the daylight ends.
Persuade the stairs to patience, and deny the passages
their aimless to and fro.
Virtue it is that puts a house at rest.
How well repaid that tenant is, how blest
who, when the call is heard,
is free to take his kindled heart and go.
The salient fact about the community we yearn for, and that calls us into wholeness, is that it cannot exist for itself. It exists only in relationship to the world. In recent years we have awakened to the fact that the people of this world are largely destitute—without food and clothing and shelter, and without structures that nourish an inward life. Unless a group of persons reach beyond themselves to touch and be touched by some of this need, its members will not know community.
Listen to the Spirit…. Love…love…love, never counting the cost. Go into the marketplace and stay with me. Pray, fast. Pray always, fast. Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbor’s feet. Go without fear into the depth of man’s heart. I shall be with you. Pray always. I will be your rest.
Souls who can recognize God in the most trivial, the most grievous and the most mortifying things that happen to them in their lives, honor everything equally with delight and rejoicing, and welcome with open arms what others dread and avoid.