Try a Little Tenderness might have been a nicer title for this book had the songwriter not claimed it first. Benedictine spirituality is known for the gentleness with which it patiently massages away at the monk's hardness of heart. The flowing robes they wear, the flowing chant they sing, the endless repetition of the day's structure based on prayer, manual labour and spiritual reading; all bear witness to a seamless process of conversion, the lowly contemplatives ever waiting on God's quiet voice within their hearts. However, it's not as easy as it sounds, so when Brother Daniel fled the world, back in the sixties, he was in no way prepared for a conflict of such dimensions with the worldly self he had forgotten to leave behind. Try a Little Lowliness traces his journey, strewn with stumbling blocks and banana skins, with a mischievous humour, but also with great insights into monastic spirituality. It lovingly paints the diversity of characters peopling the abbey, especially the irrepressible Father Lawrence, Daniel's novice-master and mentor, the wise old Prior, the inscrutable Abbot, the incorrigible cook, the lovable Sam. Both the author and Father Robert O'Brien, fellow novice and friend from Caldey Abbey, hope that Try a Little Lowliness will appeal to men and women, both young and not so young, providing a signpost to the contemplative life on their spiritual journey. Brother Daniel's humanity exudes a love of life, however strange the circumstances, and the warmth of his portrayal leaves the reader never far from laughter or tears. Paddy Lyons lives in north London with his wife, Elsie, their five grown-up children and four grandchildren all settled nearby. It wasn't always like that. In the early sixties, after a Jesuit schooling, military service and management training with Unilever, he renounced the world, survived an early brush with the Carthusians, and eventually landed on Caldey Island in the Bristol Channel to spend several generally happy and profitable years in the Cistercian Order. Later, having trained as a social worker and marrying Elsie (on the rebound from monastic life, she maintains), he turned to journalism and worked for the Financial Times. Renouncing the world a second time he used his writing skills to manage the communications of a national children's charity. After retiring he spent a decade caring for the deaf blind. Now with nothing else to do . . .
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