Posts Tagged ‘trappist’

My life is a puzzle box

August 5, 2010

This week I met with a former pastor who gave me this description of his current situation:  “My life is a puzzle box – all the pieces are there but the picture on the front has been torn off.  I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like.”

His income has gone up dramatically in the last couple of years allowing him to tithe more than his entire income seven years ago.

But financial success does not remove the questions about proper direction.  Faster, bigger and more are sometimes just that – faster, bigger and more.  Ultimately we want to see that picture of our life – a completed whole.

If I try to do something noble, humanitarian or Godly that has nothing to do with who I really am, I may look good to others and to myself for a period of time.  But the fact that I am not being authentic will eventually have consequences.  I may end up doing more damage than if I had not attempted this particular area of “success.”  Trappist monk Thomas Merton addressed this when he said, “There is in all visible things….a hidden wholeness.”

We’re all looking for that completed picture on the front of our puzzle box – our “hidden wholeness.”  Don’t be content until yours comes into view.

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?