May 12, 2011

Book Review: How to be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job

Reviewed by Brenda Keller (@brendaAKeller)

How to be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job:
An Invitation to Oblate Life
Brother Benet Tvedten
Paraclete Press (2006)
Paper: 119 pgs.

I've loved the Benedictine tradition since stepping into the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky almost a decade ago. Something deep within my soul said, "this fits." I knew nothing about monastic traditions at the time.

The Daily Office, The Rule of St. idea.

I'll always be thankful that my introduction to monasticism was observing the monks at that monastery.  My first feeling was one of being welcomed with genuine love. A monk sits at a desk in the main hall greeting visitors. When you enter and he simply says, "Welcome. Would it be helpful for you to receive spiritual assistance during your time here?"

If your response is, "No, thank you," he hands you your key he and says, "Then may you find within these walls all that you need from the God who already knows." I've wanted that tattooed on my face since the first time I heard it.

I've been thinking a lot about the monastery this week probably because I'm long overdue for a visit. Tonight, as I was atoning for my carb sins of the day on the treadmill (totally worth it), I read How to be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job. Great book. Living in the moment enhances our spiritual lives.

Monasteries are the Gold Standard of intentional community when it comes to living in the moment. When they're called to pray they pray. When they're called to work they work. Wherever they are -- they're all there. Oh, I'm sure their minds wander and they have bad days too, but overall, they're giving all of who they are to what they're called to be right this moment. God is interested in my obedience right now. St. Benedict says, "The Lord calls out to us daily. Persevere wherever you are by embracing the routine of your daily life. This is how you find God now."

I don't know what God has for me 10 years from now or if I'll even be here. I do know that God is calling me to walk with him, to give him these moments, and to trust him with today. I really believe Jesus managed to keep his eyes on the cross and on the events of daily life simultaneously.

Maybe the secret of a fulfilling life with God is keeping all this in balance. I'm going to start looking for more ways in my day to point people to "the answer" without trying to be one. And then as I leave the situation pray, "God may they find all that they need from you who already knows." Freeing.

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