Yesterday we bade a temporary farewell to the builders who have been doing repairs to the monastery. There is a huge amount of cleaning, touching up of paintwork and other tasks to be done, but we assure ourselves it will all be worthwhile in the end. What we are faced with is merely the aftermath or consequence of their efforts. Some, alas, are unintended, like discovering that moths have eaten so much of the calefactory floor covering that it will have to be replaced, but that is by the way. The important lesson is that any activity, any task, involves more than may appear on the surface. Aftermaths and consequences matter.
It is easy to talk about such things in the context of house repairs, political events like elections, or institutional or personal crises; but I wonder how often we apply the idea to our own lives and think about the impact we have on others, not in the vain, narcissistic sense, but in the constructive, helpful sense. A few days ago one of our oblates died. She has left behind the very precious memory of a kind and generous person who dealt with life’s bumps and contradictions with wit and determination. I can’t help reflecting that my personal ‘gallery of heroes’, so to say, is peopled by those whose lives have left a similar kind of memory. Perhaps we might each ask ourselves what sort of aftermath or consequence there will be to our own time on earth, and if we don’t like what we see, change course now, while we still can.