I always try to have a good book lined up for when I fly to the U.S. This past trip I was really looking forward to a book I had been saving. In This House of Brede. (Many thanks Perpetua) I began reading while the plane was on the tarmac in Manchester waiting to take-off. So engrossed was I with what I was reading that when I looked up and discovered I was not riding through the fen-like marshland of southeast England I was quite startled. "Indeed", I thought, "this is going to be a good read"!
I managed to eke out the reading of the book throughout my three-week visit, finishing it on the return flight from Philadelphia. This is not a story of cutting edge drama, though it is dramatic. In a way it is a story about ordinary people. Ordinary people who do the extraordinary thing of committing their lives to prayer and the spiritual life in seclusion. It is a story about the choices we make that we don't make so it is a paradox. These sisters live in a community cut off from the world and yet tied to the world. From Matins through Compline Monasteries throughout the world offer a daily clock of ritual and prayer for our sustenance and the glory of God.
In This House of Brede is like a prayer or meditation. There is so much to mull over and consider. As I turned over the last page and closed the book, I turned to look out the window and oh what a glorious and mystical sight. It was the early hours of a morning in June and as we were flying east in the distance the line of the horizon was red -- the beginning of a new day. There was a great deal of cloud cover beneath the flight path and far away it showed shades of pink light. For several hours I watched as the colors deepened and spread within the cloud and as the horizon grew lighter and the darkness above retreated to the west. My camera was only an arms length away, but it felt wrong to in anyway try to capture the magic moments -- not because it was for me alone but because it was mine to witness not try to keep. Like the Breathe of God ... And then came the moments when I realized that we were flying through the dawn and that morning had broken. Fantastic!