When I read Rev. Alicia’s last post I asked myself What brings you joy Mugo? And I came up with simple things like cooking and cleaning and making good. I remembered back in 2007 while in America I mended a robe for a fellow monk and wrote about it – Robes Are For Life. Yes, putting a few more miles on a robe or cutting up vegetables or cleaning a sink ’till it twinkles are activities I enjoy doing. In the doing of them there is joy and in the completion a certain sense of personal satisfaction. There’s a sense of pride, natural pride, in a job well done and there is nothing wrong with that.
The way of training in daily life, the general guidance we offer to people, is to engage wholeheartedly in whatever it is that has come before us. And to refrain from dwelling on whether or not it is a pleasant or unpleasant task or activity. Or if one likes or dislikes doing it. Of course such thoughts come up but the point is not to dwell on such thinking. One day years ago I was walking on the cloister with a fellow monk and he said he liked to be asked to do things he didn’t like doing! I thought, You must be crazy! He went on to explain, because of course I had to ask him, that doing something he didn’t like doing was good practice in getting past liking and not liking. I think at the time I STILL thought he was a bit crazy to like what he didn’t like! Now I can see he had a point. He was learning the hard lessons that brings one eventually to engaging wholeheartedly no matter what is before one.
I don’t like dealing with official paperwork especially when it involves thinking about and engaging with rules and operating procedures. They cause my brain to hurt! During an international conference call yesterday evening I sat beside Rev. Alicia as she patiently answered technical questions about our draft governance document for Field of Merit. There were quite a number of people on the call and the questions were not all straight forward. As challenging as it was I made every effort to engage wholeheartedly with the conversation as it went on. Apart from being there I did or said very little and frankly was relieved when the conversation came to an end. But in an odd way, underneath my mental exhaustion and a basket full of mixed emotions, I found lurking a sense of satisfaction. Not a personal satisfaction more sympathetic satisfaction, I’d even say sympathetic joy. I’d been witness to a job well done and there is a joy in that.