Friday, August 08, 2008

Letting Things Settle

One of my favorite spiritual writers is a monk named Father Basil Pennington. He is known all over the world. I had the good fortune of meeting him and spending time with him on several occasions. Sadly, he died a few years ago and I heard of his death while I was in France in June of 2005. I am currently reading one of his books and in one chapter he talks about how someone new to the monastic life goes through a period of time when they must let all the information and data and experiences of life in the world settle down within them. When lived correctly there should be a calming of one's life after some time living in a monastery. Although I once lived in a monastery I was not there long enough to allow this inner settling to complete itself. However, building on my monastic experience and adding the maturity of years I have achieved some clarity in my life. The murky and distorted vision that people living in the world often have should transform into a clearer vision when one slows down and allows one's inner life to settle down. A good way to visualize this is to take an old fashioned Mason Jar and fill it with water. Once filled with water, add a few spoonfuls of dirt, some small stones, and maybe a few twigs. After you have done that, seal the jar and shake it up. The swirling and murky water represents the lives that many of us have. Take the jar and set it somewhere where it won't be disturbed. Eventually....slowly...the dirt, stones, and twigs will settle to the bottom and the water will be clear. The clear water represents what living in the monastery, or practicing meditation in the world, will do for us. Taking the time to sit still and allow things to settle will give us the clarity that we can never have when we are meeting ourselves coming and going, when we are overloaded with data and images and noise, and when we live our lives like our hair is on fire.

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