Wednesday, November 03, 2010

those guys . . .

After my last Sunday as an interim at Glendale First Presbyterian, I slipped off the next day to the Abbey of Gethsemani for some downtime and reflection.  As I journeyed through the week with the silence, the singing, the walks in the woods, I was struck again at how much the monks are like us - a rhythm of work, rest, eating  -  but how differently they move!

They seem to move with the grace of ballet dancers.  There is no speed, no hurry, no rush  -  just a slow, melodic pace down the hallways of the building, into the church, across the fields.  Each step seems so deliberate, so carefully planned, yet you can tell by their faces that it has become a way of life for them.

There is an economy of speech which they model, as well.  And it is not just because they have taken that vow to observe silence, but it is a slower cadence, a slower pattern, almost a dance with the words which they us, as if each spoken thought was a lover who deserved the best the monk could offer.  Those who read the scriptures/reflections, those who offer the prayers do so as if they have all the time in the world, rather than trying to get it done so the next part of the service could take place.  During one of the daily hours, I decided to read (silently) the psalms as I would do so in church, while the monks sang them.  No big surprise, I finished way ahead of them on every line, even though I consider myself to be a pretty good reader of scripture.

By the end of the week, as has happened every time I have been blessed with a visit to this thin place, I found myself walking more slowly, thinking more carefully, reading for nourishment rather than speed, speaking more cautiously, praying with more silence between the words.  What a wonderful gift this community offers to each and every pilgrim who visits them.

The gift of a different rhythm of life, not because they listen to the beat of a different drummer, but because they pace themselves to God's heartbeat.

© 2010  Thom M. Shuman

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