Today's passage from the Rule correlates well with yesterday's celebration of Gaudete (Rejoice!) Sunday. A Benedictine community is instructed here to open itself to receive with rejoicing whatever God has to give through the presence of the visiting monastic. This is a posture of the heart that Caryll Houselander identifies as the "virginal quality" embodied by St. Mary. Listen to her words from The Reed of God.
That virginal quality, which, for want of a better word, I call emptiness is the beginning of contemplation.
It is not a formless emptiness, a void without meaning; on the contrary it has a shape, a form given to it by the purpose for which it was intended.
It is emptiness like the hollow in a reed, the narrow riftless emptiness which can only have one destiny: to receive the piper's breath and to utter the song that is in his heart.
It is emptiness like the hollow in the cup, shaped to receive water or wine.
It is an emptiness like that of a bird's nest, built in a warm, round ring to receive the little bird.
The pre-Advent emptiness of our Lady's purposeful virginity was indeed like those three things.
She was a reed through which the Eternal Love was to be piped as a shepherd's song.
She was a flowerlike chalice into which the purest water of humanity was to be poured, mingled with wine, changed to the crimson blood of love and lifted up in sacrifice.
She was the warm nest rounded to the shape of humanity to receive the Divine Little Bird.
We are each to seek this virginal quality within ourselves. We are each "to receive the piper's breath and utter the song that is in his heart." We are each to free ourselves from our attachments to the particulars of our circumstantial landscape so that we can welcome the Divine Word that seeks a channel into the world. Let us listen together for the piper's song blowing through the reed of our lives.