A Simple Form of Service

Ever since we came to the Golden Valley we have spent time each week clearing the rubbish from the verge outside the monastery. There is a lot of it, some of it quite disgusting, much of it dangerous to wildlife (including dogs), and all of it a blot on the landscape in what must surely rank as one of the most beautiful parts of England. A few days ago I noticed that Quietnun had extended her clearing activities to cover not only our verge but also our neighbour’s and the roadside opposite — a few hundred yards — and filled three black bags with bottles, cans, wrappers, food trays and so on. Very public-spirited, you may say, but a tragedy it should be necessary. True, but the tragedy goes deeper than one might think at first. If we do not respect ourselves, we are not going to respect our surroundings. Tossing rubbish out of the window as we drive past is easy: we do not live with the consequences — or do we? Every time we treat our surroundings as a rubbish dump, every time we pay no heed to the consequences of our actions, we are making ourselves a little less human, a little less like our Creator who cares about everything, even the hairs on our head. Cassian once said whoever removes just a little dust from the oratory for the love of God will not lose his reward. I am confident that Quietnun’s three black sacks will weigh heavy in the balance: a simple form of service but one with eternal significance.

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