What if we were mini-monks?

monk

The following is a response to a letter written to Thomas Merton by a young girl who was curious about monks and asked him why they live in such lonely places.

“The monastic life goes back a long way. Monks are people who seek to devote all their time to knowing God better and loving Him more. For that reason they leave the cities and go out into lonely places where it is quiet and they can think. As they go on in life they want to find lonelier and lonelier places so they can think even more. In the end people think these monks are really crazy going off by themselves and of course sometimes they are. On the other hand when you are quiet and when you are free from a lot of cares, when you don’t have to worry about your car and your house and all that, and when you don’t make enough money to pay taxes, and don’t have a wife to fight with, and when your heart is quiet, you suddenly realize that everything is extremely beautiful and that just by being quiet you can almost sense that God is right there not only with you but even in you. Then you realize that it is worth the trouble of going away where you don’t have to talk and mess around and make a darn fool of yourself in the middle of a lot of people who are running around in circles to no purpose. I suppose that is why monks go off and live in lonely places.”

Merton makes it sound pretty attractive doesn’t he? But we’re not monks. We can’t devote all our time to knowing God better and loving Him more. There are many church responsibilities that need our attention during the week. We do have to be worried about our car and our house and all that. We, at least most of us, have a spouse to live with and get along with. But all this doesn’t mean that we could not practice, even if only in a small way, some of the habits of a monk. Certainly we could become mini-monks.

What if we truly focused our lives and calendars so that we might know God better and love Him more? What if we planned for times away and go out to a lonely place where it is quiet and where we could think? What if, as we go on in life, lonely places became our favorite places? Could we discover a more quiet heart, and suddenly realize that everything is extremely beautiful and that just by being quiet we can almost sense that God is right there not only with us but even in us?

When will we realize that it is worth the trouble of going away where you don’t have to talk and mess around and make a darn fool of yourself in the middle of a lot of people who are running around in circles to no purpose.

What if we were mini-monks?