A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB
“Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”Mark 6:11
I have to laugh when I imagine Jesus teaching His followers that they don’t have to fight people who don’t agree with them – they can just shake the dust from themselves (c.f. Mark 6:11). Not everything that sticks to you is mud. Most of the time it’s just dust. And you have to know how to discern that. Don’t see everything as big heavy weights. It’s as if Jesus asks us, “They’ve been mean to you? Shake the dust off! Why worry about it?” What a nice way to handle it. Sometimes we have to physically do something to shake off the dust; when something is really painful or hurtful, if we don’t physically do something it can run around in our heads. But a way to stop it is to physically do something.
I think hearing and understanding Jesus’ words tells us a little bit about how Jesus Himself had to handle things. How He took things, so that it wasn’t so heavy for Him. He didn’t let it become heavy. It was a choice: He could be upset, mad, and let it run around; or He could just shake off the dust, turn around and go to the Father. You don’t have to do it noticeably all the time; you can go into the inner corner of your heart and shake off the dust. But I would suggest that you find something to do so that you don’t carry around the dust of the world on your shoulders. Otherwise it just all collects.
One of the most helpful ways to shake the dust off is to turn to the Scriptures. Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks loudly. That’s so often how things are answered.
Cherish the Scriptures. Put love into reading them. Pray them. This should cause our hearts to love more. It should cause us to want to do more. It should teach us how to love more. True prayer will make us love others more. It won’t make us separate. Although as nuns we may appear separated because we’re cloistered, for us, praying with the Scriptures makes us love more in a different way, in the sense of bringing people before the Lord in prayer, caring about their cares. True prayer should bring us even more together. It is a happiness, a joy, to be united to all those you love in the Spirit. Let your prayer bring you to that place. It should really root us together in that way, and then it won’t be a surprise in Heaven when we’re together, too.