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Welcome to the real world…

June 28, 2008

Well, I’d intended on keeping a regular journal of some kind when I returned to civilization from St. Gregory’s. Sadly, I have not and have allowed life to take over. Stress hit before I even entered Texas. I returned home at 4pm only to find out that the “free” internet I’d been “borrowing” from a neighbor was now protected. All I wanted to do was post pictures, enter my blog, and check up in on the world. Instead of letting go and relaxing and I searched for a place where I could connect.

Before long, I realized that while I’d changed at the monastery, the world was just as I’d left it and if I wasn’t careful, I’d go back to being just who I had been. Expectations are high. Stress is always right around the corner, and while sleep is more prevalent, there is never enough. My first few days at St. Gregory’s I laid out my clothes for the next morning, wore flip flops in the bathroom and shower, and counted the minutes I could sleep each night. About halfway into the trip, most of these things did not seem to matter. I’d have plenty of time to pick out my clothes in the morning. There was never going to be enough sleep and counting it didn’t bring any peace. While I like my feet to be completely clean, there is nothing wrong with walking around barefoot on relatively clean dorm room floor. My priorities changed.

Now I’ve been home for a week. I want to vacuum everyday. I can’t let clean dishes sit in the dishwasher for more than a few hours. I unload the dryer immediately because the thought of leaving clothes in there stresses me out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying life and am very happy, I’m just disappointed that my life is so drastically different from the monastery…and that is completely my fault. It is up to me to incorporate what I learned into my daily life. It is up to me to let go of the small things and find peace in everything. I am the one who is in control of the things in my life. (Not to say that God is not ultimately in control, just owning my part.)

Coming back from such authentic community makes me long for that in my daily life and gives me very little patience for community that is anything less. The first few days back I struggled to be around people. I could not articulate what I experienced. I could not impart my joy and peace on others. They did not understand. I longed for community, but my standards were too high. Not EVERY community can logistically be authentic, peaceful, and simple.

Furthermore, the monastery provided me a safe space to explore some things I’d been struggling with. God and I had some very serious conversations and I received some clear words from God sitting in the gorgeous chapel. I truly felt God’s presence and the billboards that I’d been waiting for. Now that I’m back home, those messages no longer make much sense. Things are different. Shocking news completely changes the path I thought God and I were walking together. Did I misread God’s billboards? Are things ultimately going to work out the way I feel God has set up?

Or is it the catch-22 of free will? We all have the ability to make our own decisions. This is wonderful and scary and disastrous all at the same time. One thing I’ve been exploring recently is how one person’s ability to act on their own free will can then influence the life of someone else attempting to align their free will with God’s “plan.” (I’m not a Presbyterian…) So, follow me here…

Sally feels God’s call to apply for a job at Company ABC. She is diligent in applying, filling out the application to the best of her ability. She prays for God’s will to be done, but feels very clearly that it is God’s will for her to get the job. (For argument’s sake, it’s actually God’s will and not her own desires!) Unfortunately the boss at Company ABC is not as much following God’s will and while the boss knows that Sally is the best one for the job, he hires Hot Blond. This causes Sally to be very sad and question her relationship with God. She needs to pay rent, so she applies for a few other jobs and eventually accepts one at Company XYZ. It’s fine, but not great and she wonders what her life would be like had she gotten the job she was “suppose to.” While she cannot regret the decisions that were made and makes the best of her experiences at XYZ, there is a sense that something happened that was out of God’s control.

This is not something I’m very comfortable with. I want to think that God is completely in control of everything at all times. On some levels, I believe in my soul that this is true. But at times this week I was slapped in the face with the reality that because of free will, God cannot manipulate every human action. I am sure you are thinking that this hypothetical example is silly and I am completely wasting my time thinking something like that. But that’s just how my mind operates. 🙂 When I am doing everything that I can to be faithful to God and what I feel God is calling me to, it is somewhat disappointing to learn that someone else, who is not living God’s full potential, is getting their crap all over me. 😉 Ultimately, we need to simply continue living into wherever God is leading regardless.

I have no idea why this post is so bleak! Let’s blame it on the migraine I got this evening and move on.

My friend Heather had a beautiful baby, Abigail, and I went to visit her this week. She is gorgeous! Heather and Chris seem to be doing remarkably well and I am so thankful to have them in my life. Andy and Megan also had a little one this past week, Wesley Trent. I haven’t met him yet, but from the pictures he’s a cutie!

While I had every intention of dragging myself out of bed in the morning for a 6am training walk (I’m babysitting right now, otherwise I’d be fast asleep!) I am thinking that the combination of the headache and the throbbing in my heel will keep me in bed. I got a blister on our marathon walk to Starbucks and continued walking on it. Now it’s infected and has a fever. Ooops… 🙂 I bought the expensive Band-Aid blister things and it should be better soon.

Instead of walking in the morning, I’m planning on sleeping in and going down to Bridwell to finish my research for my paper due next Monday. I have already gone through 6-7 books, but I need several more to complete my outline. This paper will mean the end of my monastic spirituality class. I think my thesis is going to be something about the incredible changes that Vatican II made to religious (which is code for monastic) life. Brothers are given equal stance with religious priests. Obedience is stressed with superiors looking out for the best interest of the religious. Individual orders have power to change and update their rules to fit the times. I think it’s going to be a very interesting paper!  

The thing that really made my day this week was the comment that Abbot Lawerence wrote on my post about my experience at St. Gregory’s. 🙂 I’ve also taped the Prayer of Vocations in the front of my This Day devotional and pray that every night during my prayer time. I am thankful to have that reminder that there is a community 3 hours north that is praying as a community several times a day and I do not need to be physically present to join them.


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