Saturday, January 10, 2009


I was reading Joan Chittister's The Rule of Benedict this evening. She was talking about the role of the superior in Benedictine monsteries. She said the superior is meant to be like Christ, "simple, unassuming, immersed in God, loving of the marginal, doer of the Gospel, beacon to the strong."

This last phrase, "beacon to the strong" grabbed my attention. For me, it conjures up the image of a popular leader, surrounded by equally popular heroes -- sort oof like David and his mighty men. It's not an image I like, mostly because I can't picture myself as one of "the strong."

As I reflected on this, I saw how this connects to one of the problems I have in living the Christian life. I want to be strong. I want to be a great person. I want to be heroic. But I'm not. If there's one thing that life has taught me about myself, it's that I'm ordinary.

That's OK. I know it is. Even so, I can't shake wanting to be more than I am. I want to be like Martin Luther or Francis of Assisi or Augustine. Paradoxically, I know that it is a weakness for me to strive for that. It's not who I am, and that is my calling -- to be who I am.

So I go back to Sister Joan's list of Christ-like attributes, and I take hold of "loving of the marginal." This is one of my favorite things about Christ. He loves the marginal, the weak, the little, the lost. He loves me.


Psychology said...

I often see that in myself, but in a different light. I don't want to be like Samson or St. Francis or anyone, but I DO want to be like my older sister--I always have. In third grade, I dressed up as her for Halloween, because our teacher had made the theme "Your Hero".

I am still realizing that I really don't have to go to the same school, take the same classes, or write the same papers to be as "smart" or as "well-liked" as she is.

I'm glad at least someone likes me as much as He likes her.

Rachel said...

Sorry, that was me - Rachel Hallowell. I was signed into the wrong account.

Andy said...

I think I know how you feel, Rachel. I have an older sister who is one of the most nearly perfect people I know. I really mean that. And growing up in her shadow was really daunting until I realized that I really like who I am too.