Recently I was taking an evening walk in the nearby monastic cemetery.  I’m often drawn up there.  There’s such a particular peace in that place, a shrine of beautiful lives, and I like to go there and reflect on the lives of those monks.

On this particular evening, I was struggling with a lot of prideful thoughts and was moved as I pondered the humility of some of these monks and the echo of their lives left here after their deaths.  How flimsy prideful thoughts and needs to prove myself look next to those beautifully simple symbols of these lives. Those grave stones stand so nobly and humbly against the last glimmer of day.  I was struck by how these lives so well lived, besides our memories, really have one monument left in the world for people to know them by: this gravestone.  And the monks, by belonging to this monastic community and being under obedience to that way of life and the particular ways that they as a community embody the gospel, get this gravestone.  This uniform gravestone that has their name on it—honoring the unique and big personality that this man was—but otherwise is a symbol of one thing: “I lived my vocation for Christ.”  I thought of the monk who had most recently died.  What a good, honorable man.  Never a sense of pretense.  Just him, living his life in the Lord, gradually becoming more and more what this cross that now bears his name speaks of.  What an invitation that is.