The Peoples Monastery


Monk’s Journal 5-14-08

URBAN MONASTIC LONELINESS

I have been having a difficult time concentrating lately.  I should be exhilarated from all of the progress of The Peoples Monastery in the last five months.  Still, I find living in New York City and pursuing the path of monkhood to be a most challenging task.  Not so much by way of temptation of the so-called “world” but due to spiritual loneliness. 

At this point in my life I truly believe there is a space where monasticism is valid, useful and healthy for our universe.  Not for all or even many but for a rare few.  However, in a densely populated city like New York it is most difficult to find actualaspiring monks and nuns.  Do not get me wrong, there are many great spiritualists, mystics and students of Religious/Spiritual Philosophy here.  I actually know an abundance of them.  However, when I begin talking about becoming a monk (in a more traditionalsense) I feel a gap widen between us.  “You don’t mean an actual monk, do you?  Like no sex, pray all the time, live in a monastery type of person?”  After feeling judged, demeaned and marked by a new breed of “freakdom” I sheepishly reply, “Yes.”

I have not lived a life of purity.  However I do not try to hide it.  I think when some souls approach the “religious life” they begin to deny all of their so-called “sins”.  This may be one of the major problems with the perception of monasticism today.  Men and women attempting to escape their “demons” and hide within the ”House of God”.  The reality is that the same “demons” are bound to follow them into that “house”.  I am not striving to be perfect.  I struggle every day of my life with some of the monastic vows.  Lately, I am finding the hardest vow to be that of Humility.  Oh man, is it hard to remain humble in a place where people can be so inconsiderate and rude.  But each day I try and most days, with this vow, I seem to fail in some way.  It does not stop me from attempting to honor it yet again tomorrow.

I take comfort in reading about the lives and works of past monastics like Thomas Merton, Wayne Teasdale (”Monk in the World”) and Baba Muktananda who managed to find the balance between inner solitude and interaction with “the world”.  I would love to have a fellow monastic friend.  Especially one closer to my own age.   I could really use the support.  For now such friends are found in the pages of books written by or about monks and nuns who inspire me each day to accept more deeply my vocation.

Only God knows what is to become of me and The Peoples Monastery.   And I am not going to abandon this path.  I am not called to be a prophet.  I am not called to start a new religion.  I am not called to be a saint.  I am called to be a monk.  And whether I meet and know other monks is not my major concern.  I know that this path will not be easy.  However, to not walk in the light of monasticism may be ten times harder.  Why?  Because I would be walking someone else’s path and life…not my own. 

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1 Comment so far
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Follow your own path, loved one.
Balance with find YOU…!
I understand about lonliess and sympathize.
Friends and family can help with general solitude and feelings of isolation, but it is joyful to have a supporting friend on your road with you who understands your journey because they are on a similar one. I wish my Godfather Bishop Thompson (I call him the warrior priest!) were still alive. He’d have adored you. He also knew many, many people in every walk of spritual life and might have been able to put you in touch with some folks. If you wish, I can reach outto some of his old collegues on your behalf. Just let me know. We are The People. We must also try our best to support The People’s Monk.

Comment by Janine Carter




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