Sunday, May 10, 2009

Monastic Ticks

Today I got my first tick of the season… and I’m engulfed by sadness, longing for monastic life.

It's a sparkling, clouds sky chasing spring day. Well worth the odd tick to walk in slanting sun and deep shade woods or baby green grass, prairie fields. (‘Though imagining a tick in every little skin itch is an annoying side-effect.)

Intellectually, I know that particular monastery with those sisters was not life giving for me. I miss it anyway.

Of course, I can list the good parts of monastery life: the daily psalm chant and meditation schedule, little driving, social detachment yet constant companionship, the focus on spiritual development, the biblical concentration (Of all things! How did that become a good?), living into inspiring land… and the silence and the silence and the silence.

But what I really miss is the way those conditions made it easy to fall into divine unity… and (‘though I remain embarrassed to say it) a direct connection with Jesus of the "let's sit close and talk" variety.

But both of those could be right here, right now – if only I let go of comforting distraction and entered the barrenness that lies waiting under my more dramatic feelings.

That wouldn’t be fun. It's a painful emptiness that feels like choking on fire… and at the same time like an endless stretch of deadly dull, institution-beige-wall, sand-dry, horizon-to-horizon nothing.

I have the requisite cell – my little office. It isn’t ascetically stark, but has a quiet, clean, spacious feel. Instead of emailing or phoning or writing, I could just sit and be present.

So many teachers say that within that desert a living well exists – one that can be found no matter the external conditions. All it takes is entering the emptiness, and the persistence to stay there.

The thing is, I can just sense that well, and my Beloved by it. So why am I out here kicking and screaming with flailing arms and legs, doing everything possible to keep from falling?

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