"It is no small consolation in this life to have someone you can unite with you in an intimate affection and the embrace of a holy love, someone in whom your spirit can rest, to whom you can pour out your soul, to whose pleasant exchanges, as to soothing songs, you can fly in sorrow, to the dear breast of whose friendship, amidst the many troubles of the world, you can safely retire. ... A man who can shed tears with you in your worries, be happy with you when things go well, search out with you the answers to your problems, whom with the ties of charity you can lead into the depths of your heart."
Indeed, so evangelical was Aelred's leadership that there were more than five hundred monks living the Christian life at Rievaulx during his time as Abbot. We know from St Aelred's writings that he loved Christ and had a profound knowledge of Scripture. It was this love and knowledge which flowed into the community which he ruled, a community which was marked with sincere joy; the joy that comes from friendship with Christ.