Conversatio Morum

Conversatio Morum

Last summer I wrote and published a story about a former convent, in which I kept a studio, that was fast becoming a community commons. With 131,000 square feet of space on a 10-acre parcel of land near the heart of the city this place had been purchased by way of a community bond and continues to become a community space.

How all what follows came to pass is to me a story of how Life leads. If only we learned to listen.

  Life has its ways if only we pay attention.

A colleague down the hall shared the story with a former teacher of hers, Michael Rock. Michael was sensitive to the enchantments being woven by the story I wrote and arrived, after travelling from Ottawa to visit, with a well-marked up copy and rich reflections about the meaning in it all.

Life has its ways if only we pay attention.

Michael gifted to me a book of his in which he shares wisdom derived from the Rule of Benedict. My copy of his book has been marked up far more than his copy of my story. Needless to say, a short study of St. Benedict ensued.

It would seem that St. Benedict was studying in Rome and found the patterns of civilisation wanting. He became a hermit. After some years away, he set out to establish a monastery. A sacred space, a sanctuary, and with doors open in radical hospitality. He set out the purposes and patterns of life at the monastery in the Rule of Benedict.

He set out three ethics or practices. Stabilitas. Conversatio Morum. Obedentia, which I will for my purposes convert to Obedia. These ethics do not work in isolation. They are a dynamically interacting trinity.

Stabilitas could be considered a firmness and steadfastness, perhaps a commitment to a place and community. I would include a firmness in one’s Te, one’s essence and intrinsic virtue and value too.

Conversatio Morum. There has been some question about whether conversio or conversatio is the word to settle on in this phrase. I like the space between the words. Conversio can mean to return to a thing again and again. Conversatio can be in the direction of a conversation and conversion as a result. Morum points a ‘mores’ or a certain way of conversing. Together we could accept Conversatio Morum to mean something like, a certain way of being in conversation with a view to regenerative conversion in life.

Obedia can be to lend a listening ear and to take guidance from what is received. As this sense of obedia interacts with one’s Te whilst in a certain kind of conversation with life and its beings, we so move with life, informed by and informing it.

We might also see these ethics as a call to be Present, Sensing, and Responding.

Conversatio Morum, a certain kind of conversation is what I believe Life has in store for Axiom News.

Next: Conversations with Life
Previous: Hosting a Space for Life


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