Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sitting In The Dark

Today was a very busy but good day. My day got off to a good start. The early morning air was cool and refreshing as I walked outside to get my morning paper. The morning commute was under bright sunlight and a cloudless sky. I was busy all day but the activity was enjoyable. Most of it was meeting individually with members of my staff who actually work at home. I usually meet with them about once a month so they don't lose touch with the office and I don't lose touch with them. I always enjoy the conversations. After work I had to fight the evening commute for about an hour before meeting up with two of my brothers and one of my sisters. We were going together to visit another family member who is once again hospitalized due to mental health issues. It was a good visit but the road to recovery will be a long one. Now I am home, sitting at my little desk, as the day draws to it's conclusion. The sun has set and a gentle breeze occasionally blows in my window. All is quiet in the neighborhood.

Speaking of quiet...

I will be rising at my usual time on Friday but instead of going to work I will be driving to the monastery for a three day, two night visit. I am looking forward to it in spite of the fact that part of the weekend will be taken by meetings and discussions. I really wish I was going to simply be alone in the quiet and the solitude. When I am not part of meetings and discussions, I will spend as much time as possible in the early morning and late night hours sitting in the dark. I have been troubled a lot in recent weeks and months. I have probably not been as connected with God as I usually am. I need some time from my regular life to simply sit in silence. One of the best ways for me to connect with "the Other" is to be silent and still. The monk's day begins with prayers called Vigils at 3:15 AM. Yes, you read that correctly. When I stay at the monastery I always join them. My favorite time at the monastery is the dark and quiet time after these prayers. Generally, that's about 4:00 AM. I leave the large Abbey church and go to the dining room where I toast some whole wheat monk bread and drink some coffee. Afterwards I grab a second cup of coffee and go outside where I sit in the garden and listen as the new day approaches. Sometimes I also sit by the goldfish pond or under the Gingko tree. There in the quiet and in the darkness, God speaks to my heart. This is one of my favorite experiences in life. I know at times I am probably a scandal to some people with my questioning mind and Zen Buddhist mentality but I am also still very much in touch with the Christian God that I have known my entire life. Admittedly, I am less in touch with the church that thinks they own him. The God of the dark night and the star filled sky, who loves the quiet as much as me, always shows up when I am sitting outside in the cool, predawn darkness with my steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee. We have a great time not talking but listening to one another.

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