If we think that endings are tough, we should try and remember how important good beginnings are. There is a line in the Rule of St Benedict that says, “Always we begin again.” For monks in their monasteries, their life, the measure of their success perhaps, is perseverance in the round of repeated tasks and jobs and prayers. But this is true of the Christian life as a whole, repetition is so much of what it is to run the race of the our life, a race that in many ways seems to be perpetually beginning. But rather than a bore, this is a blessing.
September is a month of beginnings, especially for children returning to school and doing so this year in stranger circumstances than we can remember. It is also a month of change and endings where the nights have drawn in, the leaves are turning and a distinctly autumnal smell is on the air. September is a month of possibilities. If we have ever complained to ourselves, “if only there was time to do that,” or “if only I had the chance to begin again with this,” there is certainly no time like the present. The virtues, those strengths of mind and character that shape us into the likeness of the Lord always get going with the smallest of beginnings if we are to see them flourish towards the end for which we strive.
In this month of possibilities, maybe we should all try with new heart. In the spiritual life we don’t always have the feeling of being armed with a new pencil case and pristine shoes for our new beginnings because God gives us the grace we need to get started in more subtle ways. With his help, now is the time to begin with baby steps along the way of patience, and courage, even of returning to Mass, the practice of prayer, not to mention all the little kindnesses that create a climate for doing the good we ought to do, but sometimes feel daunting in the getting started. And may the Lord who begins this good work in us, bring it to fulfilment.
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