We have all come from very different places, along a variety of road. We hope to share some of our life stories with you, to give you a taste of the different paths a man may follow to respond to the call he hears.
Drawing on a text from the prophet Isaiah about the lamb lying down with the lion, St. Aelred of Rievaulx, one of our 12th-century Fathers, spoke about the diversity of lives gathered into the peace of a monastic community:
Reflect on how God has gathered you here from what diverse parts of the country, from what diverse backgrounds. One of you, when he was in the world — what was he like but a lion in his wealth and pride, despising others and vaunting himself as superior to them ? Another of you — was he not like a wolf, living by plunder, trying to grab the property of others? The leopard is an animal characterized by changeableness: so were some of you in your slyness, your trickery, your deceit.
Again there are many in this community who reeked of wantonness. Those like that were like goats, for the goat is an evil-smelling animal. There were some, too, who when they were in the world lived innocently; they can well be compared to lambs. There are yet others who in the simple lives they led were like sheep. Now look, brothers, in what harmony and peace God has gathered all of them together in one fellowship.
Here the wolf dwells with the lamb, eats and drinks with the lamb, doing it no harm but loving it deeply. There can be no doubt that the person who was like a wolf in the world now lives in great harmony with someone who was innocent as a lamb. The person who was proud as a lion now lives in great peace and quiet with someone who was and still is a sheep in his simplicity.
Here are some of the stories of monks from our community: