Giving in place
The monastic life is based on, among other things, awareness of one’s own death and relating that to the death of Christ. Not merely as a means for reframing this life and so empowering ourselves to “make the world a better place,” or even to see the Cross as an inconvenient but necessary instrument that leads to “a better place.” And certainly not merely as a means to “cope” with anxiety or isolation. Faith is not a coping strategy, but the crucifying, paradoxical way into the mysterious heart of death and eternal life. From our earliest days two thousand years ago, we Christians were noticed for how we met unavoidable death and suffering thrust upon us by circumstance or gross injustice, and our difference became transformative for the people around us. Thanks be to God.
For us Christians and for the life of the world, there are no shortcuts through this, as much as modernity and our death-denying culture run from it. We are called to go deep right now into the reality that death will come for us, too; into the reality of what scares us about this situation. Because it is precisely there that Christ our God is fully revealed and makes Himself known to us. At one point in her Showings, Julian relates how she cast her eyes upward in anticipation of the blisses of heaven. But then her eyes came to rest on the tortured, bloodied, withered Crucified One. And she chose Him—precisely Him—for her heaven. And she stayed. With Him and His mother. Let us stay, too.