My parents owned a furniture store so I grew up in a family business. Everyone had to work. I had “hours” after school and on Saturday. If I showed up at the exact hour that meant I was late. I was supposed to show up early enough to get ready for my work assignments. As a member of the family there were exceptions; however, if I used too many exceptions I would end up working after hours assembling baby beds and high chairs. As a child, if I arrived late for a birthday party, my mother made me apologize to the host. That happened several times until the embarrassment helped me alter my schedule. My folks would like the part of St, Benedict's Rule. Benedict seems to know that embarrassment and guilt are powerful motivators, i.e., “let him stand last of all, or in a place set aside by the Abbot for such negligent ones in order that they may be seen by him and by all.” As much as I’ve been around the Abbey of Gethsemani, I don’t know where that place to stand is located. Around my family’s store, it was not a place to stand; it was a look that put me in my “place.” As a result of all this upbringing, I’m almost always early.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I was recently given the pleasure of commenting on Chapter 37 of the Rule of Saint Benedict. He made being kind to the elderly and children a part of the Rule for monks which is also a good guideline for living. A former supervisor of mine said that you could tell a person with emotional maturity because that person would practice “the milk of human kindness.” It seems that Benedict is asking us to practice the milk of human kindness, especially in our relationships with the elderly and children. Benedict is saying that even though kindness toward the elderly and children may be human nature, we need to put it in the Rule, so that no one forgets or neglects this practice.