Monastic Studies

!! UPDATE !!

After quite a bit of study and soul searching the last few weeks, I think I’ve come to a revelation. I’ve never really wanted to be a monk, live in a monastery or seek out an eremitic vocation. Let me explain. All my life I have been the quiet kid in class, the non-social coworker, the inattentive spouse. I have absolutely no friends (those I did have I no longer talk to, either because I’ve offended them with my inattention, or we simply have grown apart). I have no significant “other.” The only people I talk to on a daily basis is my mother, and that’s more for her than me.

The issue with this, of course, has always been that others think there is something “wrong” with this kind of situation. It’s often termed some sort of “condition, dysfunction, or disorder.” To me, though, I think the exact opposite. I am not sad about the loss of friendships. I’m not disheartened by the lack of intimacy with someone from the opposite sex. I don’t long to impart my lifelong “wisdom” to a child. I could care less about my co-workers (if I ever have them).

Despite what the rest of the world may think: I’m not lonely. I actually don’t secretly crave human interaction. I’m actually happiest alone. I don’t feel left out or as if I’m missing something when my Friday or Saturday night is exactly the same as my Sunday through Thursday nights of closing up shop at 6pm, heading to my room, eating dinner to some tv shows, relaxing for the night, and eventually falling into a blissful sleep.

I have my hobbies. I have my passions. I feel more fulfilled in isolation that I ever have being surrounded by people, and it has ALWAYS been this way for me. I am an introvert! What do you expect? When in close proximity with others, when having to interact with people (or even pets), both my emotional and physical energies are quickly depleted, and it only gets worse the longer I’m around them. The solution? Solitude. Stillness. Quiet. Space. Distance.

When I am alone and engrossed in whatever it is I’m doing (writing, watching tv, reading, studying, etc) I am invigorated. I am on a high. It is, for whatever reason (environmental or genetic or gift from God), who I AM. What I’ve realized is: I have nothing to apologize for. Nothing to feel bad about. I need to embrace who I am. I need to “be” who I am.

I think, over the years of criticism from so many people, I’ve sought legitimacy through monasticism, that, somehow, this would be a culturally sanctioned way to be who I want to be. But, it won’t work. It’s not what I “want.” I have no call to go to the desert in hope of some change for the church. I have no desire to join together in community of other men for the rest of my life to chant the Psalms and give up all my worldly possessions. This was, I think, just a smoke screen to make me feel better about who I am.

But, I don’t have to listen to them. I don’t have to be the round peg that fits into their box of square holes. I’ve been working for a few years now on my dreams, on my plans, on how I can realize them in a realistic, genuine way in my life. I’m close. Really close.

Even in religion, too, I have had my overly vocal critics. I’m too negative. I’m too legalistic. I’m too opinionated. I’m too heavenly minded. And, yet, the naysayers will be the first to tell you that I should be going to their church. Yeah. I need to be going to their church and follow along with the program. No making waves. No pointing out the fact that their worship, their fellowship, is akin to the superficiality of an Amway meeting. No expressing concern that maybe we might have glossed over several verses in the last bible study, simply because they were too controversial to cover.  Ever heard of the doctrines of men? Yeah, that’s in the bible, too.

I discovered last night, I don’t forsake the fellowship simply because I don’t want to go. I do not attend because there is nothing there! Those buildings are dead and empty and forsaken. They are not biblical churches. They are not the church that Christ died for. He tells us that we will know them by their fruits. They have none. Superficiality. Arrogance. Anger. They often have contempt. If there was a church that had right doctrine (biblical doctrine), then, yes, absolutely, I know I would attend.

So, I’m left with the next best thing, for, as the bible points out, there is a point when the love for the saints will grow cold. I used to always think this was me. That, because I don’t attend these McChurches, that I was the one that had no love for the body and, thus, no love for God. But, it’s not true. They do not have the love of Christ in them. They have division. They have distinction. They have the air of the Pharisees.

I will now set out to do what God has called me to do. After all this time of being mired in the muck. After all this time of thinking it was me that was “wrong.” Right or not, sent by God or not. It’s time to give it over, to “be” me while devoting that which is best in me to the Lord. To serve a purpose.

I think I can do this through my writing most of all. It is, indeed, the perfect fit. The perfect vocation for an introvert. It is all I’ve ever really wanted to be, from the time I was very little. I do have a lot to say, I just don’t want to be around you when I say it. 😉 I think I can serve the Church “better” and more “authentically” apart than I can together in the same, physical place.

So, monasticism was an interesting test of vocation. I did not get far and thanks be to God for that. I am a hermit, through and through, for whatever reason, I have no clue. I know, if being honest, it is who I am. 100%. This means my writing serves a greater purpose than some vague idea of success. There is a reason why these characters talk to me throughout the day (and no, I’m not schizophrenic). And, what’s even better, as a writer, I get the best of both worlds. Isolation and I get to live out the life of anyone else imaginable. How great is that?

I’ve been drawn to monasticism since I was a teenager. At that time I considered entering a Buddhist monastery, but opted to join the military instead.

Over the last several years, I’ve been doing an off and on again exploration of Christian eremitic monasticism. I discovered the Desert Fathers shortly after my divorce, and now, over five years later, I’m still working to discern a monastic vocation.

This page will serve as the official record of my pre-testing monastic exploration. I don’t know if I ever will test my vocation in an official capacity. With all my questions and doubts, I simply lay it all at the Lord’s feet and ask him to do with me what He will. There are certainly pros and cons with entering the monastery and with remaining outside of it.