Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mepkin Abbey: Day 3 – Wednesday


The morning came cool and clear as I stepped outside at 5:10 AM. I arose at 4:30 (Okay, 4:45 after I hit the snooze button), showered, and packed up to go to lauds. The rain we received between vespers and compline last night was a cool front and now everything is clear. I grabbed a cup of coffee and made my way to the church.

Early morning is my favorite time. I feel sleepy yet content and secure in the structures of the monastic rhythm. I arrived slightly early and took a seat in the retreatants section. Sitting in the quiet as the monks shuffled in, I prayed and quieted my soul. The worship was song and chant and psalms, not dissimilar from Taize. The service is all in English and accompanied by a lone acoustic guitar played by the cantor, a spectacled, bearded man of 50+ years and a clear tenor voice. He starts the chant for his side and then the other side takes up the psalm and the two sides exchange verses antiphonally until the last verse is sung and we bow and sing, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit". I am starting to "get it" and feel more like I am joining in.

After a silent breakfast I read through Revelation 13. I tried to linger on the doxological sections and was again impressed that Christ is the only worthy one to be worshiped throughout eternity – He has all dominion and power and all nations and people will bow before him! Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Eucharist: I sat, again, in the retreatants section and followed along. A different monk shared the homily which was very good on clothing ourselves with the humility of Christ so that Christ gets the glory. I stood around the altar with the community but didn't receive communion, being protestant and all. There is so much to like about the liturgy – its anchor in scripture, its gentle rhythm, its slow pace, unhurried, no concern for segued transitions, and times of prolonged silence for reflection. I am appreciating all of this.

But every now and then there is a "speed bump" – the petitioning of Mary, the "look not upon our sins but upon the faith of your church", etc… I can only go so far.

I passed the peace but passed on the Eucharist – though the priest did say a blessing over me, which was nice.

The have a Labyrinth – a kind of maze-like circle in a large field designed to help one "contemplate" better. Because it was so cool and nice I started walking it. The idea is to center oneself in contemplative prayer. I bailed about ¼ the way though, thinking "This is stupid!". I am really not ready for that level of mysticism.

"I want so to re-connect my relationship with Christ, to recapture the wonder, the simple joy. I desire to be taken up with Christ. I don't want to 'run a Church', I don't want to argue and debate. I want to know and be known. I just want to be with you, Christ. Show me where I got off the path, show me how to get back on. I want to climb down from my head and into my heart. I want to worship in Spirit and truth. Hear my prayer, O Jesus, send your Spirit, be merciful gracious Father."

Supper: I had a cheese sandwich. Provolone and cheddar on wheat with mustard and mayo. Until tonight I've gone with peanut butter. Actually they had some organic peanut butter so I had half a PB sandwich as well.

I had another conversation with Jerry and Derrick – more weirdness. They seem to be very comfortable with their ideas. I discerned their views to be Gnostic combined with pantheism, occult, and spiritism, and "create your own reality new ageism, with a splash of positive thinking ala Anthony Robbins. I think they would agree with the DaVinci Code and other pop-Gnosticism. I need to ask them about the cross and the resurrection. Also about angels and demons. "Protect me, Lord – reveal your Son!"

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