It was an early Saturday morning, most everyone else had gone to the local Mission leaving only a few of us alone with our thoughts. Since the other Brothers were to have breakfast at the Mission it was a rare morning off from kitchen duty for me. Taking advantage of the still warm fall quiet, I slipped out to the herb garden where I found Brother Lawrence. Not wanting to startle him I made a little more noise then I needed while entering the gate and Brother stood up to greet me.
“Brother! Good morning this blessed day.” I could see Brother was in a cheery mode which was not that unusual only not this early. I could see he had been reading a letter which he held in his hand.
“Good news I hope Brother?”
“Huh, oh, yes. Anytime I hear from a friend it is always good even though they may not be as good as they could be.”
“Nothing serious I hope.”
“Well, nothing physically serious; no sickness or other harm. But still, serious in a spiritual sense I'm afraid.”
Being familiar with Brother Lawrence's sometimes cryptic sentences, this was not that bad. “I sense that you are still concerned for the welfare of your friend.”
“Yes I am. He doesn't seem to think he is in need of much help though. While he was good enough to send me this letter, I fear he is not telling me all. But you know me, I see things beyond the obvious.”
“If it is not revealing too much in confidence, what is bothering you about your friend's welfare?”
“Well, I guess I can speak to his spiritual welfare in general terms as long as I do not reveal his name. One sentence he wrote reveals more about his state then all his other words. 'Even though god and I don't always see eye to eye, I'm pretty darn righteous.'”
Taking a few moments to think about those words, I said, “At first thought they seem more honest than most I've heard. Too many are filled with 'God speak,' something I've heard you refer to many times.”
“Yes, there are no platitudes in his words which is refreshing and he is nothing if not honest. But his honesty reveals something most are unable or unwilling to admit; namely that they don't agree with how God is running this universe. They believe that they could do a much better, more human, dare I say a more 'Christian' job then God does. Oh, I have heard it many times during my trips to the Mission how God didn't come through as they thought he should or how they would have helped someone better then God seems to be helping them. It is most distressing when they think they are more caring then God is. I just want to grab them and shake them and say, 'Who are you to judge God? Who are you to think you are better than the God who made you, who keeps you and who loves you?' Of course, I don't do that but I want to none-the-less.”
“I see honesty is not only for your friend this morning. “smiling at my words and how 'Brother Lawrence' they sounded.
Chuckling a little, Brother Lawrence continued.
“As you can see, honesty reveals the secrets of our soul and of our state before God, Brother. And I am not saying that I am any better than my friend for I too wish things were different for others like my nephew or the many poor, sick and hungry throughout the world. Too many times I have questioned how a loving God can allow such terrible things to happen to so many people. Yet, at those times, I have been shown just how wrong I was.”
“How were you wrong Brother? You were just being 'Christ- like' in caring for those who are poor, sick and hurting. Is that not what Jesus tells us to do?
“Yes, it is, to a point. We are to do what we can when we can but that does not excuse my lack of Faith. Faith in God taking care of not just me or those I know about but also those throughout the world. I am showing almost a complete LACK of Faith when I voice those doubts. Who am I to question the God who created the universe when I am put a speck in the dust? Who am I to think I know better than God?”
I could see that Brother was getting himself worked up about this and since he has a bit of a “condition” I wished to diffuse the situation a bit and calm him down.
“You are quite right Brother about our not trusting God enough. Just look at the birds here in the herb garden. Our Lord said God takes care of even these. They don't worry about where or what they will eat tomorrow but God provides for them and how much more does he love us? And just look at how beautifully you have taken care of this garden. Such colors and to think they will go to make our food taste better and salve our hurts and make our man caves smell much, much better.”
I could see that Brother was now winding down a bit as he got distracted by my words and the beauty around him.
“Yes, you are quite right Brother. I should not let these things get to me so. Maybe it is because I see so much sin still in my soul that I get impatient. Like my friend said, we may have a lack of Faith in God's ability to handle things 'right' but we still aren't that bad. But then I remember that our Lord said that there is not one who is righteous in our own eyes. Not one. That we all come short of being what we should be. He did not say these things in a nasty way, only pointing out that we are all in need of much more then we have in ourselves.
Brother was slowly walking over to a bench he had next to the herb house. He slowly sat down as he continued.
“Without going in depth into the meaning and consequences of Sin, for we have to get on with our work Brother, we are indeed in need of help if we are to understand how to live our lives as joyously as we can. How much we short-change ourselves, denying ourselves the happiness we COULD have had if we had only been more 'righteous.' But dear Brother, we must get back to work for as you they say, 'Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.'”