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Becoming a *Monk in the World* with Dana Reynolds

I first met Dana when she attended a contemplative art retreat I led a couple of years ago.  I discovered not only a kindred spirit but a very wise woman with a multitude of gifts.  Dana has created a beautiful website called Sacred Life-Arts which is an online sanctuary, classroom, and resource center devoted to bringing creative inspiration and spiritual illumination to women.  Be sure to check out her free 7-day e-course on Living with Divine Awareness: Sacred Practices to Awaken the Senses.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a free signed copy of Our Turn Our Time: Women Truly Coming of Age (Dana’s essay is included).

What is a monk in the world?

Several years ago I discovered a meaningful revelation while reading City of God, by Mary Agreda, a seventeenth century nun. The writing referred to Mary, the mother of Jesus. “She acted the part of a pilgrim on earth and an inhabitant of heaven…She also carried with her, her own oratory and sanctuary…”

I believe this ancient wisdom speaks to us today. Certainly we are pilgrims on earth, doing our best to navigate our busy and often frenetic lives while we search for deeper meaning and understanding. We are also spiritual beings seeking peace and relationship to the Holy.

How do we carry our sanctuaries within us in the midst of the tasks and demands of contemporary daily life? The ancient spiritual practices of monasticism carried forward into our time provide inspiration and guidance.

Monasticism teaches balance…ora et labora, prayer and work. Prayer is woven into all aspects of everyday moments, whether preparing a meal, driving to work, or resting in the stillness of personal reflection and contemplation. Spiritual practices fortify the soul for life’s challenges and daily responsibilities and tasks. Devotional reading, journaling, lectio divina and engaging the senses to experience nature’s wonders provide fortification for the soul.

Prayer, sacred study, and shared wisdom with a community of kindred spirits centers the mind and spirit in God’s loving presence. Through the support of spiritual community and the exploration of personal spiritual practices we build our inner sanctuaries to carry with us as pilgrims on life’s journey… as monks in the world.

—Dana Reynolds

I love Dana’s question about how to carry an awareness of the sanctuary within us through our daily lives and to everything we do.  I look forward to exploring this further together in our Advent online retreat.  Learn more about Dana and her work at her website.

Dana is one of the guest teachers for the Advent 2011–Birthing the Holy: Becoming a Monk in the World online retreat (November 27-December 24, 2011).  Dana will be reflecting on week 2 and the theme of sacred journeys.

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13 Responses

  1. I love the concept of carry sanctuary with us. I try every day to be aware of sacredness around me. Dana’s words are wonderful & wise!

  2. This reminds me of a book I red while on a spiritual retreat: Poustinia, by Catherine Dougherty. She writes about carrying the stillness of the hermitage out into the regular routine of life. She describes it as holding an “inner poustinia” within you.

    I love this concept–I don’t feel called to cloistered monasticism either, but being able to carry an inner stillness with me into the busyness of life is a beautiful idea! And we can! Jesus gives us the peace that passes all understanding–even in the modern, frantic world. Thank you!

  3. Carrying your inner sanctuary brought up a visual for me of the figures of Mary which open to show an inner figure of Jesus within. Thank you for an introduction to a writing I was unfamiliar with.

  4. I too love the question about how to carry an awareness of the sanctuary within us through our daily lives and to everything we do. I long to be able to appreciate the sanctuary I am and become more faithful to recognising the presence that is within me and within every other person. To allow myself to bow in respect to that prersent within the sanctuary of myself and the other.

  5. .’…..she also carried with her, her own oratory and sanctuary.’ ~ love this phrasing and desire it to be a description of me as well.

  6. “Monasticism teaches balance.” Thank you for the reminder – it is so easy to fall out of balance when life is busy. I look forward to learning more.

  7. A lovely meditation. As a strong introvert I have always felt a pull toward a contemplative life but have never felt called to a strictly monastic life. I have been strongly influenced by Henri Nouwen’s book Out of Solitude, which talks about cycles of solitude and engagement, and how each informs and strengthens the other .

  8. I want to spend some time exploring the Website. Thank you for sharing the link.

    I also find the idea of internal sanctuaries deeply resonant.