Heart to Heart

The Grace I asked, I received …
December 16, 2016
July 15, 2019

Some time ago, I was reading a life of St Therese by a Carmelite priest, and in one of his reflections, he quotes Thomas Hardy as saying: “Every person is like a planet who carries in his or her orbit their own atmosphere.” He then asks the question: “What happens when people come into my orbit?” And he spells out the question in very practical terms: “By my words, looks, gestures and deeds, what atmosphere do I create at home or in the workplace?” Drawing on his own experience of 40 years in religious life, he reflects that one thing he has learnt is that each member in the community is a very powerful person, who has the capacity to make the common life a joy or a burden. I remember years ago, when I was a young Jesuit on retreat, being quite shocked when the retreat giver, talking on this very point, gave the example of a nun he knew in one of our hospitals, who had the reputation of being able to get all the nurses fighting whenever she was put in charge of a ward. By contrast, one sure way we can make life a joy for those we live with is to foster the contemplative ode, which is an important dimension of our CLC way of life: “That loving attention to the other that allows the other to be fully and freely present.”

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