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The Story of the Cloak: A legend Attributed to St. Bridget, Patroness of Ireland, circa 452 – 525
As the story is told, Brigid went to the King of Leinster to tell him she needed land upon which to build a monastery.
"You do, you do," replied the king. "How much do you need?"
"We need only the land my cloak will cover – no more," she answered.
"Well if that’s all," said the king, "you shall have it. That can be settled easily." On hearing that, Brigid removed her cloak and laid it on the ground. Then to the amazement and astonishment of everyone watching, the cloak began to grow. It grew and grew. It stretched all round at once, stretching itself out and rapidly gaining speed.
Startled, the king jumped back. The cloak was like a living thing! Finally, it stopped.
Brigid looked around her. In every direction her cloak stretched. It covered acre upon acre of rich, green pastureland. With twinkling eyes, she said: "Thanks be to God."
"And thanks be to me," said the king. "Make good use of it."
I declare that Contemplative Outreach Ltd., is like the cloak that keeps growing and growing in every direction. The cloak is a living thing, just as the Centering Prayer practice is living, organic and spreading out globally.
Fr. Thomas and our founding pioneer members can look in every direction throughout the U.S. and international chapters and see the contemplative hearts that have been awakened to the awareness of the divine indwelling.
The king ends the story with simple words: "Make good use of it."
This is our invitation to make good use of the re-awakening of our Christian contemplative heritage and to ensure that it does not disappear again from the tradition.
We are to make good use of the vision, theological and administrative principles, keeping them alive and ensuring they are life-giving for future generations.
We are to make good use of the openings created by inter-faith dialogue and to embrace and celebrate our differences.
We are to make good use of this graced moment in time, embracing the intentions of the governing board as we pass the baton on.
We are to make time each day to follow the intent of Contemplative Outreach to foster the process of transformation in Christ in one another through the practice of Centering Prayer and in collaboration with other groups that share this intention.
We are to make good use of the financial base and our history of the years; of the teachings of Fr. Thomas and the multiple resources available; of our most generous volunteers and the programs and guidelines that are in place.
We move into the future with hope.
By Fionnuala Quinn, OP
Contemplative Outreach International
Contemplative Outreach Dublin