In community everyone contributes to the life of the house, whether in hidden or obvious ways. (Like a well-tuned car, you don’t know all the work that goes into it, or how dependent parts are on each other, until one little thing goes awry.)

Yet, as far as works are concerned, the most important contribution by far is the spirit in which we accomplish them. This is a deeper level of contribution, more abiding and resonating, and much longer lasting, and each is a choice. Maybe we didn’t choose the work we were assigned, but we choose what we contribute to our thoughts, our moods, the whole tenor of our day—what we put our energy and attention into. Most delightfully, “God accepts the good intention and toil of his servants no matter how we feel”, as Julian writes; our real offering is in our intention and work and not in our feelings. Enthusiasm is a nice extra—the choice to respond in patience (even strained patience) to our inner or outer bugbears is something usually within our grasp.

At the moment, a lot of our energy is being contributed to putting the monastery back together—getting all the gears in place and working smoothly again. Some contributions seem so very small—fixing a recalcitrant towel rack, printing new labels, finding a new way to organize a heap of tools…but each goes toward building our life together, just as our inner and outer responses do. And surely gratitude is the great contribution.


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