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.
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.
The themes which Dana refers to resonate with me these days. Am returning to the same threads in my own life, the one of balancing work, prayer, and study–the monastic ordering of one’s days–through a retrieval of Celtic monasticisms. The Celtic path is an undercurrent that I’m finding helps explain my own swirling, wandering, ‘searching till satiated’ journey, a journey of tilting at the windmills of our culture yet continually renewed by silence and nature.
I appreciated the question about how we hold the interior sanctuary. It raised the question for me to watch (is this not what we do in the sanctuary—watch) how my inner sanctuary is available for others to enter and leave changed by the silence, groundedness, holy. Does my innner sanctuary deepen as a result of the interchange?
I am grateful for another emergence of contemplative, creative, collective sanctuary. I have been wondering about the lives of pioneering pilgrims in this century who are so lured by the abundance of “distractions.” I keep returning to the everyday sacred as integrated prayer practice in the deepening and widening of our holding of sanctuary. Thank you for this opportunity to feel connected on this path.