We started at Abbey Dore, the Cistercian fragment deep in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley, and stood before a cross and a Christ-gaze in the ambulatory among the fragments of sculpture, cloister-walk fragments, and lines of otherwise shattered and missing vaulting, and slowly, haltingly, recited the Mass reading as Lecto Divina – the slow, broken up recitation of Scripture, as much silence as the Word, which allows the Spirit to speak to us as our otherwise crowded and noisy hearts otherwise wouldn’t. The heart flashed with light – the Word searching for us, and recognising the longings within us, demanding what we really, truly mean.
What longings? That we might somehow meet Him in his cry of pain, which in most people is constantly carried by all of us, yet usually inaudible. To respond to that cry requires a listening to what is being asked without a word being said. What do people’s behaviours say, including those of students? It’s not enough merely to react, but always to listen, and to act as if the call from each student matters utterly. The sense that people remember how we responded to them fills the heart with a living responsibility.