March 10, July 10, November 9
Chapter 32: On the Tools and Property of the Monastery
For the care of the monastery's property
in tools, clothing and other articles
let the Abbess appoint sisters
on whose manner of life and character she can rely;
and let her, as she shall judge to be expedient,
consign the various articles to them,
to be looked after and to be collected again.
The Abbess shall keep a list of these articles,
as the sisters succeed one another in their assignments
she may know what she gives and what she receives back.
If anyone treats the monastery's property
in a slovenly or careless way,
let her be corrected.
If she fails to amend,
let her undergo the discipline of the Rule.
In 2002, Massachusetts was threatened with a severe drought. The
guesthouse and monasteries here depend on wells, however that
was not much consolation. If all the ground water was depleted, we
would really be in trouble. In the case of the guesthouse, our rather
venerable well cannot be deepened again. Next time, it will mean dig
a new one.
So, we began to really conserve, watering such few plants as direly
needed it with milk jugs. I began the practice of dumping water used
only for rinsing dishes or stuff to be recycled onto the herbs
outside. Guests were cautioned to resist flushing toilets
As I watched myself become more careful of water, I began to reflect
on the wastefulness of modern life in many areas. Actually, we didn't
do that much to conserve. Most of what we did was simply trying to
avoid the levels of waste to which we had become accustomed.
Well, that's something we should be doing with everything, not just
water, and it should be done because we do not own things that all
people need outright. How different we would have been in the first
place, if we, like so many in the world, had to walk to a single
shared water tap a couple of miles away twice a day or maybe even
just once! And then- oh, horrors!- stand in line for a couple of
hours before drawing our heavy water and hauling it home on foot. Or
maybe, as for millions, there is no tap at all.
Americans in particular can equate lack of waste with stinginess.
It's a terrible view of things, but deeply rooted. Consumerist
society encourages waste because it fuels profits for the few at the
top. Sad that many below cannot be made to see that when we waste, we
are cheating ourselves, in more ways than one: ecologically,
economically AND spiritually. Waste is a lack of mindfulness for
I confess that, out of immediate danger for drought, I have become a
little less careful. Actually, only a little though, because I have
been changed by some awareness, some mindfulness. The reasons which
have subtly taught us to live with criminal waste as if it were
nothing are false, totally false. They are not luxury, they deny
others. Why live a lie? We do not live on a planet of infinite
Monasteries and homes are microcosms of the universe. We must never
look at conservation as if our actions alone will advance the rise or
prevent the fall. They very well may do neither. What our actions CAN
do is limit our complicity. That is the only safe rationale for
Every drop of fresh water makes the ocean less salty, though its a
fair bet that the Atlantic will remain saline, indeed, in spite of
our efforts! That's not the point. All God will ever ask us is what
WE added to or removed from the problems around us.
He knows we cannot change things single-handedly. No average citizen
alone could have stopped the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, but some
chose not to be in any way part of it, often at the cost of their
lives. See what I mean? A wealth of opportunity in choice awaits all
That treasure of choice awaits us in every single area of decision,
many, many more times than we are aware of ordinarily. The Pearl of
great price we can buy with our choices is Christ Himself, Who always
waits for us discreetly behind the good!
Love and prayers,