This month the MRCC Singles' book club is reading a book called The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. Norris was the inaugural speaker at the McBride faith and literature lectures and she was unbelievably good. There are times that words almost seem to take visible form where they are just floating around the room and connecting together in pleasing and easily comprehensible structures. Listening to her that night was one of those experiences and thus fellow book clubee Melissa Shumate and I decided that she would make a great read.
And indeed she has. Amongst other things she has inspired me to become a monk! Ok, well I probably won't become a monk but a life that's day to day moments are dedicated to living and experiencing God and His son is inspirational. I really do think that if I find myself single at around 35 I will join a monastery for a few years just to gain the enlightenment that comes from that experience.
One of the things I've learned from a mere sixty pages of reading is that monasteries aren't self-encased safe havens that totally remove an individual from the world. Monks, and nuns for that matter, are truly trying to live lifes separate from worldly pleasures yet they still make an evangelical impact on those that come to contact with them. I think too often in the past I have written them off as living in a bubble and not in touch with the world they live in. However I think this is great ignorance on my part, and there is more to this lifestyle then I originally thought.
I sometimes wonder if those of us who live in the world try to have the best of both worlds. Work with me because this is an idea still in development and not fully thought out. But we are blessed with so many worldly pleasures in America and become so busy and distracted with entertainment, technology, and activities that we spend less and less time actually focusing on God. Yet we at the same time try to bring God back into those crowded spaces and attempt to be "spiritual." I'm not sure you can actually do both.
Perhaps thats why we try to impose spiritualism on our society and why we focus on things like morality so often as opposed to a relationship with God. Morality is not always tied to righteousness, or for that matter, spirituality, but we figure that as long as we are doing right then we are being spiritual. And if we lead others to have to live by our moral code we are fighting the war against the evil powers that exist in this world all the while forgetting to focus more and more on God and less on ourselves and this world.
More rambling will ensue from this book, but as I'm just starting it I wanted to give you some insight into what Kathleen has to say. If some of these thoughts seem strange or off the wall, remember, she's a poet! I blame it on all these artistic people for being not so systematic in my theology!