contemplative monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

You’re Becoming A What? A Monk?

This post first appeared as a guest post on the eckSermonator.

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Seriously, who in their right mind would want to become a monk? In this day and age? Isn’t that a thing of the past Dark Ages?

Jason asked me to write a bit about becoming a monk, specifically a Franciscan. The fact that you’re still reading means you’re at least curious. So here goes.

You may have heard that we don’t discover our passion in life. It’s already there, within us. Accessing our passion is a recovery, rather than a discovery process. We’re hardwired for it. It’s the deepest and strongest motivation from our core. The wild thing is that the more we follow our passion, the bigger it grows. It’s like Moses at the burning bush. We are like the bush, burning but not consumed.

That’s what I feel when I think of being a monk. Its like I’m already one. It’s always been there in me. Its who I am at my core. Its how I practice my spirituality.  Let me explain.

When I came to Jesus out of Buddhism and Native American Shamanism, what did I do? What would you do? Take a course? Join a Bible Study?

Well, I took my pocket New Testament and went to the mountains. My sinner’s prayer went something like this. “God I know you’re real, but I don’t know about this Jesus. You show me.”  So I camped and hiked and walked with God. I read books by the streams and saw visions in the mountain caves. Normal people don’t do that. But for me, it’s totally normal. It’s how I’m hardwired.

You see, my spiritual life is a journey. And that journey is my destination. It’s a life of living transformation in Jesus, warts and all. Safe and predictable doesn’t work for me, at least spiritually.

So, what about all the disciplines of being a monk?  Are they too rigorous? Is it too confining?

I’ve always loved disciplines. They laser focus your life. They remove the garbage. Spiritual discipline and practices raise the valleys and lower the mountains to make a clear highway for God in our lives. So my focus is being a disciple of Jesus. And he’s telling me this is my next step of the journey.

Disciplines also, shape us: First as Labors. Then as Craftsman. And finally into the creative world of Artists. This applies to all disciplines: gardening, to photography, to being a husband and father. We’re all at different levels, in the many different areas of our lives. The hope is that we’re on a journey, and not stuck in a cesspool.

Now the goal of spiritual discipline and practice is to super charge our relationship with Jesus. It cuts off the options to wander all the time. Our outer disciplines cultivate our inner core. Our problem is that we all move from living disciplines to institutional ones. But our core simplicity works wonders here.

God is always reaching out after our heart. He wants an intimate heart to heart relationship with us. And isn’t that what it’s all about? So that’s what being a Franciscan at this point of my journey is about for me. Progressive transformation in Jesus.

So, what is the deep stirring of your heart? How has God hardwired you? What brings joy to your heart and a light to your eyes? Where does deep call to deep in you?

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Photo Credit: “Italy-1763 – A Holy Beggar…” archer10 (Dennis)

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