Published May 4, 2006
Guerric professed his solemn vows here on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. It was a happy day here. Solemn professions move us all deeply—the life of a good and loving man becomes a part of us.
Guerric has been here six years. The sharing of his life with ours did not begin on the day of his profession. The vows he spoke raised to a high and solemn way the direction his heart has taken for a long time.
The best way that we get to know each other here is by working with each other—or, in the case of me and Guerric—sharing an office space.
He was up here last night and asked me to help him with a few paragraphs of thanks that he is writing for our newsletter. I moved a few words around, dropped a few and added a few so as to better bring out what he wanted to communicate. I was happy to do that for him and made sure that my grammatical changes in no way detoured his original intent.
People say that I am good with words. I am happy to share that gift with Guerric.
Guerric has, among other gifts, a talent for cooking. He loves to cook.
On his cooking days he will spend hours in the kitchen, moving words from a book to the most tasty casseroles, salads, desserts, etc. I have often told people that if Guerric had only a bucket of sand he would find a way to make it a delicacy.
Some years back I was asked to cook here. I made easy things—a tuna casserole my mom taught me to make and a Chinese meal that came out of an envelope and was easy to make. I cooked two days a week. I alternated the Chinese and the tuna. That was the extent of my creativity, and I did not last too long in the job.
A person is an ongoing gift of God. A person is God’s creation and through the gifts that a person has, God reveals something of who he is.
Gifts are for others. The honing of one’s talents as these are refined for and through others are movements of grace. Gifts well developed are of benefit to the gifted—and to those who receive them.
When Francis Michael, our Abbot, accepted Guerric’s vows on behalf of the community, I could not help but think that one of his gifts is the ability to spot and encourage the gifts of the men here. And so it is that Guerric brings a lot of creative talents to us and does so happily.
The great humanitarian, Albert Schweitzer, was once asked how a man or woman could find happiness. He reportedly thought for a moment and said that happiness is not something that one looks for directly. He suggested that if a person lives a life for others of service, happiness will come as an unexpected and delightful result.
It is early morning here and still dark. Here I am, alone in my office—actually a huge storage room on the third floor freed up for me to write by the Abbot—and Guerric is alone three floors below, preparing what he needs for today’s meal. I am moving words around, trying to find the right ones to express my love for him and the gratitude that I feel in knowing that he is here for the long haul. I hope I write as God would want me to. That would make me happy.
And Guerric is moving from words in a book or his memory so as to translate them into a sauce, a casserole, a generous dish of pasta. It is another way that the Word moves through the talent and good nature of a person.
I will taste something good later, and hopefully Guerric will read something good. That is a nice blend—and it is close to what this life is about. We are the gathering of the wounded, the happy, the gifted—all hungry for the God who feeds us with himself through our lives. That is a happy thought—as was March 25th a happy day, the joy of which will stay here for a long, long time.
Father James Stephen Behrens, OCSO, is a monk at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. He is the author of “Grace Is Everywhere: Reflections of an Aspiring Monk,” which is available at the monastery Web store at www.trappist.net.