There is a brother at the abbey who on sabbatical as he writes a book. His name is Fr. Isaac. I asked Fr. Guerric about him one day and Fr. Guerric's response was, "Oh, Fr. Isaac is a Benedictine," as though Fr. Isaac's being a Benedictine would explain his behavior. He is mischievous and funny, and always talks to us even though he isn't supposed to. I think he likes the idea that he's getting away with breaking the rules. I sit on his side of the chapel, and he registers a look of impression and pride when the other women on our side turn to the right prayer at the right time. We have gotten used to him being a bit of a jokester. Last night, however, as we were leaving Compline to go to bed, he bid us farewell with the blessing of Compline:
"May you have a restful night and a peaceful death."
I was a little shocked at first, even though we had just prayed to God, "Grant us a restful night and a peaceful death." It's one thing to pray it. It's another thing to hear that blessing from someone else.
"You, um, too?" I responded.
Later I thought about what a lovely blessing that is. It does not deny the reality of death, but wishes for us that our inevitable death with be surrounded by and filled with the peace of Christ.
And to cement that blessing, we remember our baptisms as we leave the church and go to sleep. We remember that it is Christ's death and resurrection that give us the hope of rest and peace, both in life and in death.
I don't think I'll go around saying that to everyone I meet, but I will certainly carry that blessing with me as I go.