I usually know when a post will provoke comment; what I don’t know is when a post will provoke thought or prayer or both. If I touch upon certain subjects, I can usually predict that I’ll get a flurry of emails/messages telling me that, as a nun, I oughtn’t to have an opinion on such matters and should certainly not express it; but I also know that in more than one case the very people who disagreed with me have given the matter more thought and sometimes even come back to say that they had changed their mind or, if they had not changed their mind, at least they did not dismiss my view as automatically as they had at first. And I smile with pleasure because my aim in blogging is not to make people agree with me (although, of course, it’s nice when they do) but to encourage thought and to stretch my own thinking as much as anybody’s.
The strapline for this blog is ‘the world seen from the cloister’. It has a double meaning: it’s a looking-out from the windows of the monastery — physical, spiritual, moral, intellectual — at the world outside, an almost limitless horizon. But it’s also an admission of the smallness of the world I inhabit, the tiny cloister hidden away in south Herefordshire that few would know about and even fewer come into contact with were it not for the internet. The lives of most of us have similar paradoxes at work in them. Our circles of work/family/church/associations are comparatively small, but we are engaged with a much bigger world we know principally through the media and through the books we read and the questions we ponder. The place of prayer in all this may not be obvious to everyone, but I think it needs to be emphasized. Most of us most of the time have to act on imperfect knowledge, on less than adequate information about possible consequences, on the proverbial ‘wing and a prayer’. Let us not be so reliant on ‘winging’ it that we forget the importance of prayer.