I’m off to the monastery this morning.
Why do I go to the monastery? In many ways it is like going to visit friends, very peaceful, quiet friends. It is also like undertaking a difficult project, or a backpacking trip. I must force myself to sleep little and eat little, but the physical exertion is minimal–if I the brothers can’t find something useful for me to do around the monastery (move fire wood or help with a building project), then I take a long walk in the afternoon.
I also go to the monastery to sit with the abbot. I guess you could call him an elder, but he would not let anyone call him that. He is just himself. He has a direct way about him. Some might even say harsh, but always loving and true. Perhaps that’s why he sometimes appears harsh in his opinions (not his attitude or actions), because I am so unaccustomed to true. It often takes me a couple of months after a visit to digest my conversations at the monastery. At the time of the conversations, I often have reservations, sometimes outright disagreements–why they keep letting me come back, I don’t know (probably it has to do with love). But as these conversations ruminate within me, coming to mind every now and then for some more mental chewing, they start to make sense. Or is it that the seed germinates within me, sending down roots and breaking up the stoney soil of my heart? Yes, that’s probably it.
Usually, it take a couple of days just to empty my head, when I go to the monastery. By third day, I start to feel that my mind, the rest of me, has arrived. Now I’m here. It is not that I forget the world, exactly. It’s rather that the cares, the people I love and hold in my heart, seem to be at the monastery with me. They are with me among quiet, peaceful friends. We are at the monastery.
Please pray for me. And as much as you are able, in your heart, join me at the monastery this week.