Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Living the Liturgy - Playing Monk

Living the Liturgy Part One
Living the Liturgy Part Two

Arriving at The Abbey of Gethsemani felt like a giant wave of peace perfectly mixed with a panic attack. Something in my soul whispered as I passed through the gates, "Be careful. You'll never be the same from here." I couldn't explain it then, and I still can't completely, but it was true.

I checked into my room at the retreat house, sat on the bed and thought, "now what?" One certainly does not go to an Abbey to be entertained. I left to wander around.

I came to these gates, sat on the ground, leaned against the chapel and willed myself to be right there in that moment. God Alone. I prayed, "God. It's you alone who brought me to this place. I don't understand why and I'm a little freaked out, but I'm here trusting there's a reason. Speak to me in these days. Make room in my heart. Move everything else until my life is Yours alone. I surrender to You even if it makes no sense to me."

I walked into the visitor center where a monk warmly greeted me and offered a schedule. He didn't seem weird. He was the most genuine person I had ever encountered. We spoke for a few minutes about what brought me to the Abbey and what I wanted to find there. He said, "Praying that all your searching finds answers in God alone." Chills. I thanked him and he said, "Well, it's getting late. Better get to prayer. I'll walk with you." Getting late? I looked at my watch. It was 6:00 p.m.

I honestly had never encountered The Daily Office. I had never heard anyone in 20 years chant a prayer of any kind. It was quiet. Very quiet. The ceilings were high. Very high. And it was breathtakingly beautiful. I took my seat with other retreat like people who did not seem nervous. So, I decided I wouldn't be either.

I spent the next 20 minutes mesmerized. Monks came in laughing and talking, but once they took their seats, palpable reverence echoed through the walls. The lights went down and my heart was racing. No doubt. God was there.

Every word seemed to plant itself firmly in my heart. Hyper focused, I couldn't listen hard enough. I was thankful for the darkness. It wasn't long before tears were streaming down my face. What was this beautiful mix of words ushering my soul into the throne room of God? I knew it was ancient, but it made me feel brand new.

. . .To Be Continued

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