Time is somehow of a relative significance in a monastery, as you grow to live and fight day by day, but I can't help remembering St. Mary of Egypt, who lived alone in the desert for 47 years, and yet managed to keep track of all of them, despite (or because of?) the fight of the first 17. She was obviously totally awake and alert all of this time.
Today, a lot of local people came to Mass. One of them, a 91-year-old gentleman, who is still not ruling out the possiblity of getting married once again (but it will have to be love at first sight, you see), knew our late bishop Gran when he was a monk at Caldey. Now Caldey is a place everyone else here - except me - visited at least once. It is a beautifull island off the cost of Pembrokeshire, Wales, not far from Whitland, where Cistercian monks live. I keep hearing stories about Caldey, one lady translated the poems of a monk from there, another wrote a book... When I voice how inadequate I feel in this welcoming environment, I only hear that we all started somewhere.
My irritation at the fact that I am more welcome in a place I am visiting for a second time than in a place I have lived and worked in for 9 years is apparently obvious, because I am constantly being asked, why on earth do you live in Norway? I don't know the answer to this question, because I have pondered it for all those nine years, and, admittedly, there was always something the Lord was accomplishing in my life. So, I guess, the answer is, because it was God's will. He has always made a point of reminding me I am only a pilgrim on this earth.
Now I am part of another fellowship of pilgrims who share one thing in common - neither of us can stay in a place the charism of which we belive we share, and we have to find ways of taking this charism to our respective homes and living it out. While this part of my pilgrimage is yet very personal and I am not prepared to discuss it in depth even with myself, the place to live part is somewhat more open to discussion. Not rushing things, I would like to hope that one day, indeed, I will get to live in a place where I can speak English daily. Since 1997, the answer to this prayer has always been NO - and there was always a reason for it, so it yet remains to see whether my wishes are at all reasonable and good. But, at the very least, it is good to know you are welcome someplace you love...