Friday, April 16, 2010
The Ten Things
This photo was taken by one of my brothers at the monastery one day in the cloister garden while I was waiting for another brother to meet me there. We were going to look over the garden and consider what I would work on that afternoon. It was a cold day and I kept my hands under my cincture and my scapula, not out of monastic tradition (though the "custody of the hands and eyes" is an ancient monastic practice)but because it was cold out and I had been waiting a long time. Even now, as I see this photo I can see how forced the smile was - not because I was unhappy - I was quite happy - but because I was angry at my brother for leaving me to stand there for 45 minutes in the cold.
But this photo is also another kind of image for me. It is a kind of icon (icon simply means "image".) This icon reminds me that although I am no longer a novice and may never have been much of a monk (Brother Paul warned me that it took 50 years to become a monk and I think he was right!) I was in a very valuable "class" of sorts. I was being taught a few things which I needed to hear God say to me. What I sense God was saying includes the following. They were sayings meant for me, in my life, but others may sense that some ring true for them too:
1.Love the Gospel of John because it was written by people in fear who love Jesus and that is often going to be your situation as well.
2. Get the help you need to be in a constant state of conversion - a constant state of becoming God's hope for you.
3. Use the silence of your day and night as a laboratory for your conversion and your love-making with God.
4. Take time each night to consider your life - ask the hard questions about what wrongs I have committee no matter how small, so that goodness is given more and more spaciousness in your life.
5. Let go of grudges and judgment and unforgiveness for it only constipates you in every way.
6. Take time in the morning to pray so that you sensitize yourself to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and so that you can hear in the midst of the noise of the life you live.
7. Get therapy - lots and lots of therapy! No. Seriously. Get therapy. You have had a hard life and you need to seek real healing.
8. Seek after truth and embrace it, lead where it leads and cost what it costs.
9. Choose your friends carefully and love your friends deeply.
10. Make time for deep rest, because it is only rest that will allow you to see clearly what needs to be seen and hear clearly what needs to be heard.
That monk's habit did not make me a monk but it was what I wore while I was being taught what I would need to know to make me a man.