Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
During this Jubilee year of sabbatical we are revisiting our Monk Manifesto by moving slowly through the Monk in the World retreat materials together every Sunday. Each week will offer new reflections on the theme and every six weeks will introduce a new principle.
Principle 4: I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation and a healthy asceticism by discerning my use of energy and things, letting go of what does not help nature to flourish.
“How necessary it is for monks to work in the fields, in the rain, in the sun, in the mud, in the clay, in the wind: these are our spiritual directors and our novice-masters. They form our contemplation. They instill us with virtue. They make us as stable as the land we live in.”
—Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas
Monastic life is a living out of the new creation. Thomas Merton wrote in one of his letters that this is what the monastic life is ideally all about: “the monk here and now is supposed to be living the life of the new creation in which right relation to all the rest of God’s creatures is fully restored.”
Creation is the matrix from which all of my work and loving in the world are made possible. I remember that nature is the primary expression of divine artistry and that my own creativity is an expression of the world’s blossoming around me. I embrace a healthy ascetic practice shaped by a deep kinship with creation and I am committed to its flourishing.
One of the monastic practices I love most is praying the Hours as a way of becoming deeply aware of how each day rises and falls. As a monk in the world I am called to be fully present to the gifts and invitations of dawn, day, dusk, and dark. I am to remember that these are seasons of my own spiritual journey as well.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Art © Kristin Noelle
Art Text: A shift was underway, separation fading. Stewardship becoming less duty or corporate obligation and something more like love.