content to be quiet

IMG_6632Our family had the privilege of visiting The Abbey of Gethsemani last weekend.  My husband has been there previously for brief day visits.  This time around, we were able to walk the grounds a bit as well as sit in for a 12:30pm mass.  It was a great experience and I plan to go back and spend at least a day there sometime.  One of the interesting aspects of Gethsemani is there are places on the grounds marked as “silent areas”.  Places where one is not to speak.  Obviously this is designed for quiet reflection and silent prayer.

It’s stressed at Gethsemani the monks desire a life of prayer for the world.  They believe, I think rightly so, they are doing a good, important work in offering prayers for others.  They are not {doing} work as we who are part of the Church so often are a part of.  Yet they are truly offering their lives as a gift.  An ordinary, day in/day out gift of service.  And for the most part, they go about their work quietly.

In days past, envisioning a lifestyle of quietness and prayer as opposed to hands-on ministry seemed an oxymoron.  I felt that if physically able, we were all to do something.  Something besides just praying.  Yet at this point, I’m curious as to if it’s alright to remove oneself from much of the work that seems to never cease.  Lately I find myself wondering if what I do in the world in terms of helps and ministry really makes much of an impact.  I suppose stories with tragic endings do that to a person.  And in the past months, there have been many such stories.

Part of my Common Prayer reading this morning:

Lord, use us to heal the broken systems. Equip us with wisdom and foresight. May our lives interrupt injustice with your grace. Amen.

Sometimes I’m caught between wanting to picket my town’s strip clubs and wanting to remove myself completely to a nice, lovely, rural area and pray as my service to God and humanity.

Interrupt injustice with your grace.

Sure, that’s what I desire to do.  Wholly and completely.  But frankly, it’s getting a little tiring and frustrating.  And I don’t think it’s what we so kindly like to label as “burnout”.  No, I think it’s more of a maturity and a realization that despite brief respites and a few happy stories, our system is broken and so are most people.  And a Christian conference or pep rally styled worship service isn’t enough anymore to get me back on track.  I don’t really feel I’m off track.

I envision a scale.scale

What if more of us said, forget the work on the street.  I’m moving out, not to a life of suburban luxury but to a Wendell Berry kind of simpleness.  And commit to pray.  Commit to offering a place of rest to those who stay behind in the urban world and need a break.  And to the kids who need to see more than concrete every so often.

What if the numbers were even?  Two hundred families out there praying compared with two hundred families living the urban life?  Is that ridiculous?  Sometimes I have odd thoughts.  I’m a brainstormer with a ditzy brain.  But maybe it would work.  Half offering prayer; half offering service.  We could even switch roles at times.

Cincinatti 4 (720x960)
Cincinnati
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St. Louis

I do love cities.  Walking around in Cincinnati invigorates me.  Seeing the sights in St. Louis excites me.  I look forward to spending more time in Louisville, as my son preps to spend four years there.  But a part of me longs for quiet.

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