These last few weeks have been so beautiful; I’ve had my ups (which I have shared with you) and my downs (which I shall share with you in time), but – overall – it’s been a wonderful period. I finally had some rest, and I am thankful for every day I spend at Protection Monastery. In some ways, watching Mother Cassiana managing this monastery and doing all the church services is great preparation for me for the years to come.
About a week ago I’ve had the revelation (one of the downs I mentioned) that this monastery will not be founded in a year; it will take much longer, and I shall have to work much harder than I initially thought. Most probably, I have a few good years of fundraising before me, years of travels and worries, far away from the silence and solitude I was looking for when I answered to God’s calling to found this monastery.
On the other hand, all this travel, and the hundreds of wonderful-wonderful people I’ve met are slowly changing me, too. I’ve understood that, if I am to survive this calling, I must begin to see and treat every day as a ‘valid’ day for my salvation, as one of those days that ‘count’, rather than part of a strange void prior to my real monastic life. I must stop postponing the history of my salvation: this is it, here and now, surrounded by all of you. Each day is part of my story in Christ, each day contributes (one way or another) to my salvation – it really makes no difference if I’m in an airport or in a monastery, if I’m fundraising in a parish of hundreds of people or I’m by myself in the woods near Protection Monastery.
God is always with me, and whatever happens to me, whoever I meet, whatever I must do that day – I must relate to all these aspects of my life as valid means for my salvation. I must trust that God knows better than I do what I need to do, who I need to meet and so on. From time to time, I manage to do this, and suddenly everything and everyone has a meaning, there is a point to me being present in each particular situation. To postpone praying, to postpone loving – that is not waiting for a better future, it is wasting a wonderful present.
If God decided that I should meet you, then this meeting must be important, this meeting must somehow contribute to my own salvation – you, each one of the people I meet each Sunday, you are the means God uses to save me: here and now. If I fail you, I’ve failed myself; if I manage to get through to you and feel love for you, then I’ve fulfilled my monastic calling – there’s nothing else to wait for, no ‘other place and other time’. Once I get this in my heart, once I settle myself in this way of relating to you and the world, everything is fine; there’s peace and there’s hope in everything and everywhere.
I’ve started this mad fundraising adventure worrying that I wouldn’t know how to do it. As I’m approaching the end of these four months (which seem to be merely the first of many), I’m beginning to understand that fundraising (at least for this monastery and this monk) has very little to do with convincing you to donate money: my duty is to learn to love you. The more I love you, the more I pray for you and ask God to give me the heart to love you, the easier everything becomes. It’s almost as if God is saying to me: you worry about training your heart to love the people I bring before you, and I Myself shall worry about building the monastery.
Thank you all for everything you’ve given to this monastery and to me, personally. What started as a sprint, seems to have become a marathon – we’ll probably be together (here, via email, or face to face) for many years; please continue to support this monastery, and please do it with love, so that our monastery may last and it may be a place of prayer for the whole world long after we are gone.