Sunday, May 22, 2011

Advent in May

This is truly a fascinating experience. The path we have chosen for the new Prior to take over is slowly but surely exercising its power. I have less and less to do - at least of those things associated with being in charge. I've arranged everything that needs arranging. I've made all the lists that are needed. Slowly but surely the brothers who need to ask something are beginning to ask Scott and not me. I still sit in the big chair. But I'm more and more a symbol and not anything functional.

This means the process is working, of course. Once you announce that a transition is taking place, there's no way to stop it from beginning. A certain amount of the change just takes place because of its own energy. And a symbol is not an empty thing. A good deal of the power of any office is symbolic. It's just different - quite different.

This afternoon we have a meeting for the community to begin considering issues for the living of the next year. I expect there will be a good deal of energy for this meeting, and that after it the process will be even further advanced. Then we will be in retreat for three days this week. This is simply our usual quarterly retreat, but it comes as at particularly significant moment in the community's life and it will have its own significant energy.

In the meantime, what do I do? Well, there's plenty of stuff that still needs to be done. There are filing cabinets that could be cleaned out. But they could have been cleaned out long ago. There is long-delayed correspondence that can be done. Ditto. There are small things that I always wished I had the time for. Is that it? Well, I may do one or another of those things, but I don't think they are it, if by "it" I mean what this time is really for.

I think my principal occupation now is to wait. The energy has gone elsewhere, for myself as well as most of the community, and this is the way it should be. Now I wait. That's my job. I have my own personal Advent this year, only it's in the Spring.

A time to wait. A time to feel what waiting is like.

I don't want to live in the future or the past. I want to live now. I treasure many, many things about these years of being the community's leader, and I know that the (immediate) future is going to be really good. But neither of those is where I am now. And so I wait. Waiting has its own discipline and its own feelings.

I might not have described the process this way as recently as yesterday. But when I started to think about what I was going to write this week, I realized that I couldn't think of anything. I usually write about what's going on now. Well, I've said what I have to say about ceasing to the the Prior, and I've given a beginning description about what I'll be doing after this. I couldn't think of a thing that needed to be said. And so I thought I'd explore that and see what was there, and that's when I knew that I'd entered into this waiting time.

It will not be long. And it will have its own disciplines and rewards.

PS - a few of us were having a discussion the other evening about what I should call this blog after I'm not the Prior any longer. Elizabeth said it should be called "The Prior Prior's Column." That really tickles my sense of the use of words, and I do love it. But I'm not sure I want to emphasize the fact that I used to have this position. Something more about what I will be next, I think, is more what I'm looking for. "Bede's Blog" is the first thing that struck me, but I'm not sure that's it, either. Hmmmmm. This will require some thought.

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