Letter: Acts of kindness help others, draw us closer to God

From: John Brooks


God told Abraham to leave the land of your fathers and go to a land I will show you. All you are guaranteed in this life is an adventure and it is a wonderful thing to be guaranteed. God said when you were born, I am going to put you in a place where you do not know what is coming and all you have is the freedom and capacity to make choices to change your community and world to make them better.

Our adventure as Benedictine oblates began at our investiture where we were planted as seeds in the vineyard of the St. Meinrad monastic community. During our novice year we were nurtured and cultivated by the monks and fed by the lessons of St. Benedict. By our oblation and promises of stability of heart, fidelity to the spirit of the monastic life and obedience to the will of God, we were transplanted to our communities. In our communities, endowed with the heart of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we plant the seeds of compassion, understanding, forgiveness, kindness, happiness, joy and love. The seeds we plant are not just passive words, they are our acts of sacrifice of self, service to others and putting others needs before our own. They are the example of the life we live, “Our way of acting should be different from the world’s way.” (Rules of Benedict 4:20)

Our way of acting — fed by prayer, service, study and self-care — is to engage our communities and our world. Sometimes we’re met by a world filled with pain, suffering and misery. We engage it anyway with compassion, comfort and kindness. Sometimes we’re met by a world filled with anger, confusion and violence. We engage it anyway with understanding, knowledge and forgiveness. Sometimes we are met by a world filled with happiness, joy and love. We engage it, treasure it, encourage it and thank God for it.

God in heaven holds each of us by a string. When we turn away from God, we cut the string. God gathers the ends and ties a knot bringing us a little closer. Again and again we cut the string. Again and again God reties the string, bringing us closer to him. It is a wonderful teaching about our loving and forgiving God who only wants us to be closer to him. It is also a wonderful teaching about engaging our world. Each time we reach out to a neighbor in need and offer help, each time we reach out to a neighbor who is suffering or in pain and offer comfort, each time we reach out to a neighbor who has wronged us and offer forgiveness, each time we find a neighbor who is lost and help them to find their way, and each time we welcome a stranger we knot the string that binds us. Each act draws us a little closer, encourages with hope and strengthens our communities, our world and ourselves.