(Or, "Lessons Learned from spending a few days with the Monks in the Abbey of Gethsemani.
In my last post I shared an outline of the typical day. Sorry it was such a long-winded post. Facebook is training us to read only about 40 words at a time so I probably should have broken it up. I'm going to break this one into smaller chunks.
Over the next several posts, I want to share some reflections about my week; the "what I walked away with" part. Sorry Central, you will probably heard these again in sermons. But for long-time, regular readers of my blog, you've figured that out by now. :)
1. Well... Monks ARE hard core.
And I want to be more so.
Hard Core = "unswervingly committed; uncompromising; dedicated"
Say whatever you want about their theology, their retreat-ism, the style of what they do, etc...you have got to respect these guys for their devotion. Being a monk would be hard work.
To my surprise, I did not find this to be a relaxing retreat in some ways. Although I'm fairly fond of routines (and really enjoyed this one), it was a fairly intense routine. The regularity of the Divine Office, the vow of silence, the lack of technology, the commitment to physically staying there, the simplicity and lack of "distraction"... these things were kind of refreshing for a few days. But to live a life committed to that "Rule of Life" would be challenging.
And then there is the "work" of wrestling with God. I don't know about you, but sometimes being honest before God is physically and emotionally draining for me. Reflection, self examination and confession... this is the "work" of the soul.
I've often heard Christians say that daily time reading the bible, reflecting and praying is just too hard to maintain. Heck, I've said that before. But I guess I'm just not buying it anymore. Since the beginning of the Church (and before that, into our Jewish Heritage), people have made time (not found time) to regularly and intentionally spend time reflecting on scripture (as well as engage in other practices that help form Christ in us). And that has always been difficult. And it sometimes seems like work. That's why they call them spiritual DISCIPLINES.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. But in the end it produces a harvest of righteousness by those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12)
We are such an instant gratification society. We want a dose of Jesus and we want it when we want it. It's kind of like taking vitamins. Rather than learning to eat the right foods over time, we want all our nutrition in one nice, neat pill. That way we can take it really quickly with a swallow of water in the morning before we run off to work.
Life in Christ really is about simple obedience over time.
And that is not glamourous, or sexy, or instant, or easy.
So one of my challenges to myself, and to the Central community I lead, is that I'm going to continually challenge us to be immersed in the Word of God much more regularly. To MAKE the time (not find the time) to have a regular time and space to encounter Christ.
What keeps us from doing this now? What keeps you from doing this now?
How much time and energy do I spend on Facebook, or watching TV, or playing games on my computer, etc.? Is that stuff really producing fruit in my life? Is it producing fruit in your life?
Why do we fear regular spiritual disciplines? I often hear people suggest that they fear legalism. We are SO FAR from legalism it's amazing. So what is it?
I want to be more hard core about my relationship with God and my life as a disciple.