Farewell Brothers

Nun's Story

There is nothing like 3 days at a monastery for making you appreciate the comforts of home.  Even the simplest things suddenly take on a new depth and sheen like having more than one light bulb in a room, a comfy mattress, an indoor bathroom and wifi.  But this experience has also profoundly effected me in ways I didn’t imagine. I am not sure why I originally had the idea to come to a monastery.  Probably an abiding curiosity about the spiritual power of silence, trying to parse my own religious beliefs and having watched Audrey Hepburn in The Nun’s Story one too many times.  What I do know is that this monk-ish existence isn’t for me.  I’ve already spent a large part of my life living quietly (often alone) and spending long hours in silence writing.  Now I am greedy for life, connection, joy  and adventures.   So it is no surprise that my back gave out on the second day here.  I simply couldn’t sit through one more bit of liturgy.

To me the monks singing the psalms sounded beautiful, but when I told this to one of the older monks he groaned, ‘Oh no, we’re terrible,’ (which I guess proves I’m tone deaf).  The psalms are among my favorite passages in the Bible, but hearing them over and over I became acutely aware of the difficult passages I usually skip, like petitioning God to; ‘Let me look in triumph on my foes. God kill them lest my people be seduced.’ Yikes. When I mention how horrifying I find these words to Wendy, a visiting Mennonite minister, she says: ‘Well there is a lot of anger in some of the psalms. They were written by humans after all.’  What I struggle with about organized religions (even Buddhism) is the sectarianism and all the  talk of ‘we are the true way’ (which implies a put down of other religious groups). Surely there are as many paths to God as there are people on the planet and surely compassion, acceptance, love and understanding are our most important attributes and surely, surely, surely, we all get to rest in the heavenly arms at the end of the day.  To my great surprise and delight every guest  I talked to at the monastery (including the clergy) agreed.

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5 thoughts on “Farewell Brothers

  1. Your first paragraph totally resonated within me. I completely understand how you felt sitting through these liturgies. I think such a monk- ish life is only for a few people on this planet who feel the “calling” for such an existance. I would rather chose a more dynamic and connected-with-the-world life style.

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  2. Thank you Lucie, that was just what I needed to hear today! I just visited with some people of faith whom I love and it saddened me deeply to get the drift that there was only one way, only one true God.

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  3. Keep on embracing your joy and celebrating life through connectivity and adventure. Where ever you go, you manage to meet amazing people and they are lucky to meet you too!

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