This is my 500th post on iBenedictines. (I never counted the posts on its predecessor, Colophon, but WordPress keeps an automatic reckoning.) On the whole, I think separating the blog from the community web site at www.benedictinenuns.org.uk (www.benedictinenuns.net if you are using a smartphone) was a good idea. The blog is more personal than it used to be, and it is not fair to saddle the community with responsibility for the opinions of one nun. On the other hand, the past eighteen months have been so crammed with off-screen activity as we tried to secure a more permanent home that many of our ideas for ‘enriching user experience’ (computer gobbleydegook for improving online services) have had to be put on hold. Even now, after nearly five months at Howton Grove Priory, we are still unpacking the library and have only just begun getting the monastic garden into shape. Just when our new websites will see the light of day, I’m not sure. For a small community like ours, which has to earn its living as well as maintaining the full round of monastic observance, admin can be quite a burden — as anyone who has incorporated a charitable trust will tell you! (We hope soon to close the charitable trust so we have only one charity to worry about, while we continue to do the audio books for the blind with the help of our brilliant team of volunteers in Oxfordshire.)
None of this, however, is really central to our online concerns. We are simply Benedictine nuns who believe in the beauty and holiness of the vocation we have been given and want to share what we can of our monastic life with others. iBenedictines has become an important element of the sharing because the posts reflect the life of the community. That is why it is necessary we should observe some of the small courtesies of the cloister when we argue with one another in the comments section. I’ve noticed that sometimes there are misunderstandings caused by reading too quickly or making assumptions the words do not justify. Monasteries are traditionally homes of ‘slow reading’. Maybe over the next 500 posts we can all try to bring something of this to the questions we discuss and reflect on together, not just here but elsewhere on the web. The polarisation of Christian opinion is something that should concern us all. I don’t subscribe to the view that Christians in the U.K. are being persecuted, but I do think that the legitimate place of religion in public discourse is no longer assured — and we have no one but ourselves to blame for that, have we?
In the meantime, my apologies to all those I have offended; my thanks to all those who have persevered in reading me; and my prayers for everyone who lights on these pages.