Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back from Mepkin

I'm back from Mepkin Abbey--a very satisfying trip. I'm still waking in the night with the music of Mepkin in my mind. It's a bit like when I spend several days on my sister's sailboat, and it takes me days to get my land legs back. I'm always a bit sad when I stop feeling the swaying of the sea. Likewise, I'll miss hearing that plainsong in my head.

I'm planning a series of posts on what the monks can teach us. When I tell people that I'm off to a monastery, I get questions: "Aren't they Catholic and you Lutheran? Aren't they male? What can you, a married Lutheran woman, possibly gain from time in a monastery?"

I don't think I can answer that in one post, thus the series. I plan to begin on Thursday. But here are some short answers.

In our increasingly hectic lives, the one thing that often gets sacrificed is retreat time. Even some daily quiet time is often the first to go when our jobs/families/household duties demand more. Yet study after study shows us that we're actually more productive if we take some downtime. And retreat time can radically recalibrate us.

God didn't create us to be these harried, frantic creatures. We cannot minister to a broken world when we're so frazzled ourselves. We feel our jobs under threat, and so it's hard to say, "Hey, can I go on retreat?" Many of us, including me, have to use vacation time to go on retreat. But I find it renews me more than a traditional vacation (go to an exotic destination, go-go hurry-hurry to get all the activities and sights in).

It's also useful for me to discover how others are living their faith. Now I can't do everything the monks are doing. My life doesn't let me break 6-8 times a day for worship services that are at least a half hour long. But I can take shorter meditation/prayer breaks. I can use music at work to achieve that peaceful frame of mind. I can surround myself with art that will help me remember my purpose. I can remember that I need time away from screens.

As we move into the frantic time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's good to remember these ways to stay calm.


Di said...

This is great, Kristin, thanks!

(Also, as people of faith, sometimes I really feel like that division between, "they're Catholic, you're Lutheran" isn't helpful. I love that you're open to moving between them.)

Have you read any of Kathleen Norris? Her experience as a Presbyterian with Benedictines reminds me of what you're doing.

Kristin said...

I adore Kathleen Norris! It was her work that pointed me towards monasticism, in fact. I, too, would like to see us move more towards a vision of ecumenism, less of an us and them vision.

Thanks for commenting!