3.9.15–>”Generosity of Spirit” (Benedictine Simplicity pt.5)

Generosity of Spirit

Eye is good

Matthew 6:23

But if your eye is evil, your whole body is in the dark. So, if the light within you turns out to be darkness, darkness doesn’t come any darker than that.

In the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day, “a sound eye” was associated with generosity, and “an evil eye” referred to stinginess. Being stingy with your money, your gifts, or your time leads to deep darkness. Like unforgivenesss, it corrodes.Benedict believes deeply in the importance of community and the sanctity of relationships. Simplicity in relationships asks for generosity of spirit, respect for others, honesty, and a heart focused on harmony. His instructions can be summed up with these words from the chapter on Tools for Good Works: “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.” If this came first to all or even most Christians, I truly believe we would need much less counseling, therapy, and medication because we would be so focused on Christ and the needs of others. Not neglecting our own needs, we would be filled with our greatest need, the love of Christ. Nothing heals like this. Nothing.There are many tools in the Benedictine way to become a peacemaker: Admit your mistakes, compete with one another in showing respect, support one another’s weaknesses of body and behavior, be forgiving, serve one another, and refrain from grumbling. Ah, so simple. So beautiful.

So I can’t come up with a better way to phrase this next sentence by Jane Tomaine, so I will quote her verbatim, “One of the greatest obstacles to living simply is a desire to bend people or situations to our liking.”

Hey. Let’s read that again.

One of the greatest obstacles to living simply is the desire to bend people or situations to our liking.

When we exercise our “control muscles,” life gets complicated. We complicate life much of the time. It is way simpler than we generally make it. Letting go of the desire to bend people or situations to our own liking is supercharged acceptance. The Benedictine way reminds of our great need for humility–God is God; I am not God. BOOM. Benedict instructs a monk visiting another monastery to be “simply content” with what he finds. The monk is invited to make constructive observations but not to make excessive demands or find fault.

Throughout the Rule, he also cautions against grumbling or murmuring. When we grumble or murmur to others, or ourselves, we are not “simply content” with what we find, but desire instead to mold people and circumstances to our own choosing. We’ve seen before how what we call “venting” is actually just a recycling of an event we don’t like, and the message is sent to our brain and body to relive that event now. So there’s no real healing occurring, just a hellacious trauma re-do. Unless it is confession and/or crying out to God in order to hand it over to Him and release it as best we can, it is most likely complaining and driving us further into madness. But may we always respond tenderly to one another’s weaknesses.

One of the greatest obstacles to living simply is the desire to bend people or situations to our liking.

Man, oh man. That is deep.

Always only for my King

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