Self-Will by Bro Duncan PBGV

The second step of humility is ‘not to love one’s own will nor delight in fulfilling one’s own desires’ etc (RB 7. 31–33). That is pretty hard for a dog, especially a scent hound like me. After all, nature made us brilliant hunting machines, designed to wear down anything tasty that strays across our path. When not out and about exploring, we like to snooze in warm places, scratch, and lick our privates in public. We have one ear for whatever is going on around us, and another for ignoring the voice of so-called authority. In short, we are all instinct and love to do what we jolly well pleasey. Unfortunately, living in a monastery poses a few difficulties.

BigSis says it’s not our will that’s the problem but the way we use it, while LittleSis says it’s self-indulgence makes us selfish. I think that means my instincts are O.K. but I need to think about my behaviour. It’s probably acceptable to chase a rabbit in a field ‘cos that’s what I was bred for, but it is not acceptable to chase next door’s cat (sigh). I can plead for an extra bikkie or two with my soulful expression, but I mustn’t sneak them from the biscuit jar because they aren’t mine. I can hog the warm spot in front of the woodburner, but it would be kinder to let BigSis and LittleSis share a little of the warmth.

All this is quite taxing for my poor brain, but I think I understand why St Benedict says this is a form of humility. After mindfulness of God comes mindfulness of self in relation to others. What I want to do isn’t necessarily the best thing I could do, and what’s good for me isn’t always good for others. So, the next time I’m tempted to chase next door’s cat, or ignore Them when They are calling me, I’ll think again and try to put the second degree of humility into practice β€” if I remember, of course. I have a forgettery rather than a memory, but I can’t help that, can I?


Dunc xx


8 thoughts on “Self-Will by Bro Duncan PBGV”

  1. You are naughty for chasing next doors cat πŸ™ If you weren’t so far away, I’d bring our tribe of Cats, all nine of them, up to chase you πŸ™‚

    But quite right. Putting others before yourself is an old principle but one that will never go out of fashion (in my view anyway).

    In the Army, when we were planning things and on exercise as a leader we had responsibility for those we commanded – their needs were our priority, something ingrained in us both naturally and culturally as we’d seen our seniors take care of us when young, newish and thinking that we knew it all!!

    Their example was something emulate and little things matter. For instance, when feeding in bulk on exercise, the juniors always ate first and the seniors waited util they’d been fed before eating. That wasn’t about segregation, rather knowing that the juniors were probably going to have to work proportionately harder over any 24 hours period, and we had a duty of care to ensure that they were well nourished.

    Pastoral care was also a feature. Knowing your soldiers (and their families if applicable) was key to be able to make the team cohesive. Being able to recognise when something might be bothering them and quietly, privately having that chat which might enable you to help them find a solution. As we worked together closely in all sorts of situations, we built trust, mutual respect and confidence in each other.

    Sometimes I look around and see elements of this in parish life and the wider community, but I also see that self interest and individualism is becoming much more the norm. Perhaps the world could do with a bunch of either military service or doggy wisdom being part of everyone’s life.

  2. Thank you Bro for filling in for BigSis. Please take good care of her, particularly at this time. Let her know that she is loved and appreciated by so many. She is very special.

    Bless you Bro.

  3. My thanks to UKViewer for his/her kind words but I assure you I’d only ever let Bro.Duncan get close enough to be frustrated by his inability to keep up with the Senior Species, which I’d hope would be a lesson in itself.

    He does write a surprising amount of sense though. For a dog.

    Signed Next Door’s Cat.

  4. Sr Mollie and Sr Gracie agree with everything you have said about rabbits and The cat next door bother Duncan, oh yes and that bit about the warm spot in front of the wood burner.They thing Big Sis is very wise and you should follow her advice in everything particularly when it comes to the Bickies πŸ™‚ Put your best paw forward ^.^ ^.^

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