Sister Joan Chittister is one of the most prolific spiritual writers on the planet in our time. My assessment of her “success” is simple. She writes what she has learned from living a life dedicated to what is known as “The Benedictine Way.” All religious congregations have rules on which they base their life and their members do their best, more or less, to grow in their attention and commitment to what is called for in their daily life in order to follow the vision of their founder. Benedictine women and men have done so for fifteen hundred years. Recently many others have joined their effort in what has been called “monasteries without walls” because they are seeking deeper spiritual lives lived with an essential component called balance. That, they find, brings peace, a state that is sorely lacking in our world today. I speak of Christian groups here but as we know the same is true in other religious traditions everywhere.
As I reflect on this moment in time, when we are living in a moment of universal upheaval, I find Sister Joan’s book, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, a valuable tool for my reflection. Here are the words that give me pause for today from her chapter called Peace: Sign of a Disarmed Heart.
Benedictine peace is not something that is ever achieved. It is something sincerely and consistently sought. It comes, in fact, from the seeking, not from the getting. It comes from the inside, not from the outside. It comes from right-heartedness, not from self-centeredness. It comes from the way we look at life, not from the way we control it. It comes from the attitudes we bring to things, not from the power we bring to them…Monastic peace, in other words, is the power to face what is with the serenity of faith and the courage of hope, with the surety that good can come from evil and the certainty that good will triumph. Peace is the fruit of Benedictine spirituality. Peace is the sign of the disarmed heart. (p. 184-85)