Always we begin again
Earlier today, I was out for a walk - enjoying the bright sky that might have been made brighter by the gloomy weather in the past few days. And as I walked, the line from Saint Benedict of Nursia, the sixth century father of Western Monasticism, came to mind: Even when we fail, always we begin again.
Benedict's ultimate wisdom, and gentleness comes in here - knowing that in the context of our overarching aims, or "Paramount Goals" as John McQuiston II put it in his 1996 book on The Benedictine Way of Living, we are bound to fail. And we get up again. And again. And agin. This doesn't excuse our failures, rather it allows us to take responsibility for failure in the context of working toward something greater.
As I held this mediation in my heart, the voice of my meditation teacher came to me from my years ago concerning New Year's resolutions. He said:
"Resolutions are usually based on what you don't like. What you don't like about yourself, what you don't like about the world around you. Do not give too much attention to what you don't like. Rather, allow the deepest intention of your heart to come up - let that be your guide."
What clear enough is that my overall aim is to be of service - to embody kindness, gentleness, and to work to awaken from the habitual ways that drag me away from center time and time again.
I'm not perfect in this regard - not by a long stretch. I can be kind. I can be gentle. I can be at service for all living beings. And I can be, well... otherwise.
And I know that I am not alone.
And so there is room for this other aim - to do my work earnestly. And when I fail, to begin again. Always, to begin again.
What beginning might be stirring in your heart this day?
Happy New Year.