“Benedict was born in the town of Nursia, near Rome. At age twenty, he left home and lived for three years as a hermit in a desolate cave. There he practiced severe asceticism, maturing in both mind and character. Though he had little contact with the outside world, Benedict gained a reputation for his holy life and discipline. Eventually he was asked to lead a monastery in a remote area near Monte Cassino. Drawing on older rules and the wisdom of experience, Benedict outlined in his rule a simple way of life for monks, centered on praying the daily office, studying Scripture, engaging in common labor for the good of the community, and performing works of charity. His vision of the holy life became the standard for Western monasticism and a model for how to live simply—in health, wholeness, and community.”
What can we learn from the monastics? What can they teach us? We live in the modern world which is so busy, so fast, so self-absorbed. Do we have time to do as Benedict did? After all, we have to make a living, raise a family, attend to all the myriad things society tells us we simply MUST engage in.
What things in our life contribute to keeping us from attending to our health, wholeness and community? The work we do can consume us, if we let it. Our resources can play a huge part in how we divide up our attention and time. The relationships we foster tend to have the capacity to enrich our lives, or sometimes, suck the life out of us. Our desire to compete with one another over who has the newest, the shiniest, the most expensive, the largest, the most chic, whatchamacallit has so utterly drained the life out of us. There really is no time left to squeeze God in there anywhere.
Even though the ancient monastics lived long ago, they too struggled with exactly the same things we struggle with. They made God the priority in their lives and lived accordingly. Can we do that? Should we all head for the cloistered walls of a monastery, is that how we put God front and center in our lives?
I don’t believe the monastics would have suggested our joining the nearest monastery. I believe they would advocate for you and I to pay close attention to our relationship with God. Do we wake with God? Are we intentional in the time we set aside to be in God’s presence, and drink deeply from the wisdom God can bring us in that time? Do we have the right order to our life? Do we make time for God, make time for ourselves, make time for our relationships, make time to just be?
Maybe what we ought to be considering is slowing down just a bit. Taking life a little slower. Maybe setting aside some things that don’t add real value to our life or to our community. Maybe engaging in ways to build ourselves and others up. Its just a thought, but maybe the new monasticism we could be part of would lead us to find a wholeness in our life that might be missing. Maybe our constant breakneck speed with which we are trying to live life, when slowed down would give us the time and wisdom to assess what can really contribute to our health, wholeness and community.
“Benedict of Nursia said, ‘However late, then, it may seem, let us rouse ourselves from lethargy. That is what scripture urges on us when it says: the time has come for us to rouse ourselves from sleep. Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of God. Let our ears be alert to the stirring call of his voice crying to us every day: today, if you should hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’”
God, make us bold enough to see and hear you in our day to day living. May we make the time to be present with you in all the things we do. May the peace of Christ go with us, wherever you may send us. May Christ guide us through whatever wilderness we find ourselves in. May Christ lead us to slow down to enjoy the wonders and mysteries of the world you have made. Amen.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,