Posts Tagged ‘thomas’

Drowning in details?

July 20, 2009

Are you exhausted with the bombardments of deadlines, required planning meetings, urgent emails, tweets and 55 more people who want to “friend” you on FaceBook?  Maybe you need to disconnect from those demands that consume your days. 

Have you considered a few days in a monastery?  I’m serious.  No, you don’t have to take a vow of chastity or poverty – just spend a few days in this alternate lifestyle.  There are hundreds of them across the country that will welcome you into their quiet world.  You may want to sign up for a retreat with a focus.  A retreat is a time to “take off your shoes,” to leave schedules and projects behind, and to be open and vulnerable – ready to be changed and deepened, and to view one’s own life as “holy ground.”

You may just need a few days of simple living, quiet and solitude with no stated focus.   “We open our doors to anyone,” says Sister Josie Sanchez, of the Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs.  “And if a person can’t afford the $50 per night fee for accommodations and food, they can work around the property,” she says.  Another center says they will help you “Retreat, Rest, Reflect, and Renew.”

I personally have spent time at the The Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky.  You may be familiar with this monastery as the home of author Thomas Merton.  One of their stated goals is to “tone down excessive self-concern.”  Thus there is no talking.  Yes, it’s a little odd at first but I quickly got used to and welcomed it.  A wonderful time for contemplation, prayer and cleansing.  All they ask for is an anonymous donation as you leave.  No phones, TV or email will cause any of us to think and reflect in ways we normally miss.  Believe me, you will hear, see and think things you’ve been missing all along.  You may get a clearer sense of your purpose in the absence of daily clutter and chatter.  And most of these monasteries have an architectural beauty that is rare in the United States.    


Here’s a list of over 1200 monasteries in the English-speaking world:  Religious Life Communities 


I had already posted this blog when I got a message about an upcoming John Michael Talbot retreat at his monastery farm in Berryville, Arkansas.  John Michael was a very successful member of the old country folk/rock band Mason Proffit, but decided to withdraw from that life.  On August 7-9, 2009 he’ll be teaching Lessons of St. Francis.  The registration fee is only $200.   Or you can wait until the following week and catch Michael Card at the same retreat center.   


As in most areas of our lives, we get to choose.  Do you want one more draining trip to Disneyland or a few days of quiet, peaceful silence?

I’m good but not great

June 15, 2009

There is a PBS special running right now on the music of David Foster (Hit Man – David Foster and Friends).  As the hosts asked him about his early years in music, one response jumped out at me.  David said he loved music as a child and his parents allowed him to take lessons in classical music.  But David said:  “I was good, but not great.”  He went on to explain that if he had been a better musician he would likely have ended up as an anonymous face in some orchestra.  Not being great forced him to look for other ways to be involved in music.  So he writes and produces for other musicians.  It has been said that Foster’s songs have made “many famous singers into superstars.”  Many of his songs have become well known through the voices of Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Micheal Buble, and Boz Scaggs.  And his own fame and fortune has far surpassed what he could have possibly hoped for as a “great” musician. 

In The Millionaire Mind author Thomas Stanley looks at the common characteristics of people who have ended up ended up extremely wealthy.  Their average GPA is 2.7.  Why isn’t it that all 4.0 students become wildly successful?  Maybe their “greatness” came too easily and they missed the benefits of the struggle.  

If “greatness” has not come easily for you have you given up the pursuit and settled for mediocrity?  Or have you looked for alternative approaches for success anyway? 

Maybe “greatness” that comes too easily is itself an obstacle.  We’ve all seen athletes, musicians, writers, and speakers who were so naturally great they never had to exercise the discipline to survive the hard times – and quickly faded into oblivion. 

Maybe not being “great” is your biggest hidden asset.