‘Always we begin again’. So wrote St Benedict, a 6th century monk whose monastic rule was lived out in our village for over 400 years at Redbourn Priory. This phrase came to mind as I was reflecting on my time in Redbourn where I have been living, working and serving this community for over one year. This has been a year which has included some wonderful community events such as the Living Advent Calendar, the Christmas Market and the Pancake Party at Coffee on the Common. Yet for many it may have been a year of personal tragedy and change. As we come to the end of a cycle in the village and churches year it’s refreshing to know that whatever kind of year we have had, we can always begin again each day afresh with God.
For some of us, the last year may or so may have been a year we wish could literally be started again, with Brexit and an uncertain General Election all casting a shadow of uncertainty over what the future might hold. There may also be many personal challenges which we may have had to overcome, whether in our personal relationships, our health or something else. For others, the last year may have been a really positive experience, both personally and nationally.
What would St Benedict have to say about all that is happening in our country and world today, I wonder? St Benedict lived at a time of massive change and upheaval, including the break-up of the Roman Empire and the loss of a common identity. In response Benedict sought to create communities which had listening and balance at their heart with obedience, stability and conversion of life, as their 3 main vows. At the centre of this way of life, was and is a way of life grounded in Christ. In this he provided an alternative to all the change and uncertainty in the world around him. That’s why his rule is still used and practiced throughout the world today, with our nearest Benedictine community located in Turvey in Bedfordshire (and open to visits too).
It is refreshing to know that whatever kind of year we have had, it is always possible to begin again. To start afresh and try to live with the attitude of ‘always we begin again’. Every day will have opportunities to get things right and to be positive, no matter what has come before.