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The Divine Office, The Unchanging Shore

Stella Morton wrote what seems to be a little-known book called The Unchanging Shore. It's hard to find. I encountered this work from a quote in another book I am reading called The Work of God written by a sister in the Anglican Community of Saint Mary the Virgin (C.S.M.V.).

In the quote from Morton's book, the speaker is George, a man whose sister, Mel, is an enclosed nun, and he reflects on her life:


"I thought of the grey convent on the hill, and of Mel's habit flicking out from her ankles as she walked through the cloister to the chapel. Mel had shut out the world with all its noise and striving and malice - yes, and with all its laughter and gentleness too - not because she despised it, but because she loved it and knew no better way to bring it nearer to the God she herself saw so clearly. She had thrown away the "much" for the "little," but only in order to dig deeper and explore.


"Down in the boiler-rooms of prayer the monastic houses stoked the night fires of the world with their love, as they had done for centuries - Mel among them. How many sufferers in hospitals slept for an hour because a thousand Mels tumbled sleepily out of their beds just before midnight and padded down stone corridors to the Night Office? Would one day the unbelievable statistics be computed - not how many crimes committed, but how many uncommitted, not how much despair, but how much hope? Every thought, intoned the psychologists, is a rapier thrust for good or evil, but where was the machine that could measure the forces generated as the Benedictines and Trappists and Poor Clares and Dominicans sent up their barrage of prayer for clerks and civil servants and cabinet ministers and housewives and prostitutes? 'Mel, I thought, had the luck...'"


Mel had shut out the world with all its noise and striving and malice - yes, and with all its laughter and gentleness too - not because she despised it, but because she loved it and knew no better way to bring it nearer to the God she herself saw so clearly.

Vicarious prayer. The few making space for the divine Love to touch many. They have the luck...

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