08 July 2011

The earth, my monastery

The sacrifices involved in monastic life are frequently chronicled, but we ought not to forget the hundredfold. There is a certain beauty that is a consequence of spending most of one's life in a single pursuit, attached to one place, and living with the same people. We are at liberty to be ourselves, no longer hiding behind facades or masks.

Yet this self is more than the fleeting persona of the this present moment; it is a self that stretches expansively over many years and decades, full of seeming contradictions and subject to so many vicissitudes. We are surrounded by so many memories of times past, of people now in heaven, of projects completed or left undone, of trees planted, of griefs and joys.

As we pass through the monastery and listen to the echoes embedded in its walls, the refrain we hear is, This is your life. Because of these voices we are compelled to live at a high level of truthfulness, since we cannot escape from what we have been and still are. A strong sense of continuity develops, and a deeper feeling of acceptance. This is where I belong. This is my home. Here I live; here I will die.

Strangers to the City
Reflections on the Beliefs and Values of the Rule of St. Benedict
Michael Casey, OCSO

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