Friday, February 20, 2009

Family and Monasticism

This morning while I was trying to go to the bathroom, Zosia was in the bathroom desperately trying to get my help/attention and climbing on my lap. I had one of those moments that was like, "Where has my freedom gone? How is it possible that I can't even go to the bathroom in peace?" And as I was thinking about my apparent loss of freedom, I somehow remembered once looking at the schedule at a convent. I don't remember which convent, or what the particulars were, but let me tell you, it was rigorous. These women get up at like 4 in the morning, work, only take teeny weeny breaks from their schedule of manual labor and prayer, and have every minute of the day planned out for them up until 9 or 10 or whenever they go to bed.

But, somehow, I feel like many monastics whose writings I have read describe an increase and not decrease in their feeling of freedom. Having a strict daily schedule with a lot of accountability helps them to "let go" and pursue a quest of deeper meaning in those mundane daily activities. And I remember Mary, my prayer partner at Episcopal Divinity School, one of those amazing women who fully embraces what is feminine while still presuming a teaching role, describing her life with her two daughters when they were little (this before kids were even on the horizon for us). She described the ebb and flow of naps, snacks, outings like a monastic experience. Unlike some women whom I have heard describing the drudgery of having babies around, Mary found deep meaning and fulfillment in the work of caring for little bodies. She was a monastic in her life as a mom and housewife.

Now, I'll be totally honest. There are some days when I am feeling totally zen and monastic and there are some days when I am pulling the hair out of my head. But that's not the point. The point is that the potential exists within this life that I have (or whatever life anyone has) to find that deeper meaning.

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