John is a 46 year old attorney: “My first monastery experience came … right before a sabbatical I was taking from my law firm. I experienced a kind of tinderbox tension leading up to the sabbatical, trying to get everything done…. As I drove home from work that last day, I was still dictating letters and leaving voicemails on my car phone. As I drove to the monastery the next day, I was revved on coffee, full of energy, and playing loud music on my car stereo. As I followed the road up the hill to the monastery through the cool woods, I could feel myself unwind. …Under the quiet, I could feel waves and waves of fatigue. Under the fatigue, I could feel waves and waves of emptiness. In my week at the monastery, God showed his love to me. In Benedict’s Rule …speech is reserved for necessary things only, and there is a healthy understanding of the dangers of the tongue. During my week at the monastery … by and large I didn’t talk to anyone for a week. In the space where words would have been, there was room for God. …At the monastery I visited, the monks attend a series of seven prayer services every day, beginning at 5:30 a.m. and ending at 7:00 p.m. These prayer services created an incredible sense of rhythm for me. I knew I would be anchored in prayer continually. The services integrated God into the whole day. …I was struck by the monks’ approach to time. It is not adversarial. While I was at the monastery, God was showing me that I always fight time, trying to manage it, buy it, control it. I have too much time or too little time. I’m always struggling with it. The monks always seem to have enough time, just the right amount of time. No one rushes. They live in a rhythm that seems unforced. …At one meal I had an interesting conversation with a monk who works in the book bindery at the monastery. I asked him, ‘What if you were trying to meet a Fed Ex deadline, and the bells rang for the prayer service? What would you do? Would you keep on working to meet the deadline? Would you choose to miss the deadline and go to the prayer service?’ … The monk looked at me as if I were out of my mind.” Lynn Baab
- Do you know a place where “no one rushes?”
- Do you have an “adversarial relationship” with time?
- Could stopping for fixed-time prayer each day help you?
Abba, keep me from rushing.
For More: Beyond the Walls by Paul Wilkes
Thanks for your interest! – Bill