Saturday, November 20, 2010
Monastic Ideals of Prayer: Extreme
The role of a monastic his/her sole purpose is prayer (not outreach). If we believe in the power of prayer then it is not a futile or a selfish experience but a gift to all humanity. We are all cosmically better off for the hermit living on frozen tundras of Russia, cells in the deserted lands of Egypt, Serbia, Romania or Greece, etc. In fact the health of the Church is directly linked or correlated to the health of our monasteries. We are each called to serve according to our own abilities.
The monk intercedes for all of mankind on an entirely different plane then the relief worker. To use the metaphor from yesterday's entry: the monastery is akin to the research lab. Not all physicians can operate within the lab nor should they; some work directly with patients and each according to their specialty. All serve in the spirit of healing. To marginalize the work of the monastic or hermit is to lack insight into the difficulty or impact of the task. Most of us who work tirelessly at something (if ever) receive secondary gains for our effort: salary, praise, recognition, status, perks, seeing the difference we make. The monastic must work or labor on faith; sights unseen without a visible system of support. They are engaged in an extreme adventure sport without any of the guarantees of organized events.
I try and strive for monastic ideals of prayer in my blessed life by setting up peak conditions for the activity of prayer. I am a novice and unlike monastic prayer ninjas I come up short. The cares of this world choke off and encroach on prayer time. Laziness and the conditioned need for distracts have me watching t.v., surfing the net, or listening to music track rather then pray. We decide not to pray.
There are triggers which I employ to set the parameters for prayer beyond the Liturgy beyond Vespers. This practice has also dramatically improved my Church life. There is a reciprocal relationship which is clear. In actually there is nothing, no moment in our lives which exists in isolation. They are all threads in and part of the tapestry of our lives. To believe that moments of defeat or success are not consequential is a lie from hell.
My experience in the martial arts gave me the humility, discipline, determination, self confidence and success to beginning running over 6 years ago. Running has provided the path for deeper personal understanding and prayer. For those of you who know a bit about me distance running is my niche. I am too old and lack the talent to succeed at running fast so I run longer where completion not time is the reward. More importantly it gives me the time and space to get the distractions of the day out of the way and find the prayerful space. The mile provides the difficulty level which gets my attention and helps make it real. It is reliable and a honest non judgemental partner. My next entry will discuss this in greater detail.