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Standing in the queue at the Orchard Cafe I found myself staring longingly at the beautiful chocolate cake on the counter. Lost in reverie I turned to the lady standing next to me and said, “This is definitely a good day for chocolate cake.”

“Oh yes,” she replied, “I haven't had any chocolate for a whole month...”

I looked shocked.

“I was doing a sponsored 'no chocolate month' for the British Heart Foundation. I've raised seventy pounds”

I looked at this lovely lady in amazement.

It happened to be the anniversary of my father's death. He died of a massive heart attack.

As my emotion welled up at the extraordinary synchronicity of the moment,  I reached into my pocket and handed her a note.

“You've just raised a bit more,” I said with a smile.

It felt good to be able to make that small gesture, to have some money in my pocket to offer.

The joy of being able to give to a cause that is meaningful to us is priceless.




As part of my Lenten journey this year I spent five days living in a Benedictine Monastery at Worth Abbey.  I have always been drawn to the simplicity of a monastic way of life and this was an opportunity to experience it. The rhythm of the day is determined by ‘offices’ or services beginning with Vigil at 6.20am, progressing through the day with Lauds (Morning Prayer) Midday Prayers, Vespers (Evening Prayer)  and finally Compline (Night Prayer) at 9.00pm.

Breakfast, lunch and supper are eaten in silence.

It occurred to me that the rhythm of the monastic day is a perfect metaphor for our lives. At the dawn of our lives, we emerge reluctantly from the darkness of the womb into the world. And so it is for the monks as they rise before dawn and make their way to church to begin chanting psalms and reciting prayers. As we grow and engage with the world, we find our way and lose our way and find it again. Each of us needs an anchor, a rhythm we can rely on as we are buffeted by the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'.

The patience and commitment of the monks (several have been there for fifty years), their faith and sense of purpose are an example to us of how to build a life. By surrendering to a rhythm they move through their days with discipline, doing what's necessary and remaining steadfast in their purpose.

The monks pay little heed to the distractions of the outside world with its noise and chatter. Yet they remain intimately connected to their community and the care of individuals within it. With patience and charity they build schools, teach children and offer guidance and protection to all who need it. This is surely a metaphor for each of us with a family as we teach and guide our children.

Is not money our means of achieving this? Isn't financial discipline actually about understanding the underlying rhythm of our lives, the importance of providing and saving and caring for others? By committing ourselves to a plan we create a measure of certainty in a changing world and give ourselves the best chance of fulfilling our lives' purpose.