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  • Writer's pictureMatt Woodcock

#17 Monks.


This painting is called Returning To The Monastery by Eduardo Zabala.

I’ve renamed it: ‘Trying to get ten-year-old twins off their ipads and out for a family walk during lockdown'.

Look at this poor monk and his horse.

It’s a picture of struggle and resistance. Anger and frustration. Disunity and disfunction.

There's no hint of tenderness, empathy, or compassion.

It’s a picture of getting nowhere fast.

You can almost hear the monk's muttered curses.

Notice all the mess that the struggle is causing. All the chaos. All the waste of energy.

It’s an image of what life can be like sometimes when we insist on going our own way. When we harbour our own selfish ambitions and vain conceits.

Notice too, the other monks. None of them are helping their brother. They’re only concern is unpacking their own horses. Looking after their own interests. They seem to be taking enormous pleasure in their brother's struggle.

There’s no oneness in spirit and purpose.

In my life, I’ve been the horse, I’ve been the struggling monk and I’ve been the sneering, selfish brothers.

I wonder who you identify with?



By stark contrast, I've got to know an amazing couple from our parish this year called John and Julie (pictured).

During lockdown, they began giving out food parcels from their home to struggling neighbours. It led to a permanent table of free food and toiletries donated by supermarkets and individuals put out on their drive.

Now their neighbour has built them a community shed and people can collect free food and supplies every day from 10am to 7pm.

All sorts of people are donating to it and using it. Families who can’t pay the mortgage, people who’ve just lost their job or got into debt.

I met a lovely elderly man at the shed this week who was collecting a packet of rice for his dinner. He told me the hut had been a lifesaver.

For me, John and Julie offer us a wonderful example of 'loving your neighbour' in action.

These are people with one spirit and purpose - making sure no-one locally has to go without.

In these days of great need and uncertainty what an inspiring example to follow.


* If you live in the York area you can donate to the hut by taking non-perishable goods to 45 Aldborough Way, Leeman Road.


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