The World is My… monastery?
Devotional thought of the day:
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted. Philippians 2:14-16 (TEV)
738 I will never share the opinion—though I respect it—of those who separate prayer from active life, as if they were incompatible. We children of God have to be contemplatives: people who, in the midst of the din of the throng, know how to find silence of soul in a lasting conversation with Our Lord, people who know how to look at him as they look at a Father, as they look at a Friend, whom they love madly. (1)
One of my favorite writers in David Morrell, who weaves tales of intrigue which happen to include a lot of soul searching. Often his heroes flirt with monasticism and the need for sanctuary and refuge.In one of my favorite stories, he starts in a monastery, located in one of my favorite places in the world – the mountainous forests of New England. The monks live separately from each other, in three room cells – a work room, a bedroom, and a small prayer room in between. Part of me craves that kind of life, only to come out of my cell for worship and communal prayer.
My work room would be musical and a library, my time spent writing, and dare I dream, composing music on guitar. Solitude, peace, quiet, . If you know me well, you are porbably thinking that I would never stand it, the extrovert I am would be driven nuts in a place like that. No electronics, no interaction with others? Are you really kidding Dustin?
No, I would fill the time with music and plunging the depths of writers that it takes that kind of solitude to comprehend. Pascal, Chesterton, Luther, Augustine, the Shepherd of Hermas, Douglas Adams. ( I could keep going…) To just play my guitar without thought of time, but focusing on playing to God.
I would love it – even as I realize it would take a week or two to get used to it. Our need for refuge, for sanctuary seems to be growing exponentially, even as we face information overload, even as our lives become complicated by gadget, even controlled by them. Even as communciation and agendas and pressures overwhelm and confuse us.
Unfortunately, that is not my reality. It is not my call. I live in the “real” world. And I thrive in helping people – especially helping them know God’s love.
So the question becomes… can I make the world my monastery? Can i live life in such a way that it is my monastic workroom? Where I invest myself, as I would in music, or in reading/comprehending, but with people? Can I see these things as sacred and holy as spending time on my knees. I am not like Luther, who saw little value in monstacism, I see a great benefit to the monastic lifestyle – but can we live our lives with such intent, with the peace that is found in such sanctuaries in the real world? Can we live, shining like stars, reflecting the glory and love of God in the midst of the darkness, the chaos, the stress?
That is one of the reason I would love to sit down with Josemaria, for 40 and 50 years ago, he seemed to be able to accomplish this. Surely he had his struggles, he freely admitted them in his writings. But somehow, from many different accounts, he was able to see the world as one complete work of God – that it was in the midst of the anxiety and stress where we shine brightest, where we can find the stillness of the soul, and the presence of God.
The world is my monastery? Yeah – it is, when I am in coversation with God while in the middle of it all.
It is my sanctuary – when I realize I live in Him in it.
God’s peace is with us….an amazing, undescribable peace….
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2671-2675). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on January 30, 2014, in Devotions and tagged before the throne of God above., life, Luther, Monastery, peace, practicing the presence of God, psalm 46, Refuge, Sanctuary, silence, St. Josemaria Escriva, stillness. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
Amen! This has been on my heart, as well.
It isn’t easy…