I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Wisdom Council member Michale Moore’s reflection, “The Contemplative Life in the time of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus.”
This has been a season of concern, fear, frustration, and exhaustion for my wife Denise and me as we guide the congregation which I serve through this time of difficulty. To be honest, I have had to limit my intake of 24/7 news in much the same way I had to while I was serving as a Chaplain in the US Air Force when the attacks of September 11th, 2001 occurred and we went from “exercising” to really shutting down a base and protecting it from any further attack. I am also having some flashbacks to wartime maneuvers and deployments as I lead this congregation through a situation they cannot comprehend. Trust me, this Padre is having a hard time wrapping his heart and head around this situation.
So, you might wonder how we are trying to cope and center ourselves spiritually as Denise and I work frantically to bring virtual worship and fellowship to our community of faith. It has been a long and intense slog through the mud (or in our case, snow). What are we doing personally to persevere? We are trying to center ourselves through the practice of Daily Prayer. We try to begin the morning with the Office of Morning Prayer from the Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer which is available through Amazon or Amazon Kindle.
It seems lately that most of the time we Pray the Office of Compline before we fall into bed exhausted. These moments together in prayer help us to center and relax.
Another discipline that has been important to me has been my daily readings from Thomas Merton’s varied words of prose and poetry. And yet another source of support and warmth has been with Christine and John along with our Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks community. We have a variety of self-guided retreats and the daily emails with quotes and blogs that nourish.
My dear Dancing Monks, these are indeed interesting times. I researched this quote, and this “curse” has no basis in Chinese legend and in these times of rising racism we must not call it a “Chinese Curse.” Instead we are living in unusual and scary times. I believe that as we approach self-isolation or even “Shelter in Place” as communities and states, that we are called as Monks in the World to pray and to be a witness to the Love, Grace, and Light of the Spirit however you may define Her, the Spirit (which is how I describe (the spirit of God, Ruach) in my own faith journey).
We used to say in the military that we weren’t in a Sprint, but rather a Marathon. Much love to each of you as we live, love, pray, and share that Divine Light throughout this marathon. I’ll close with a favorite prayer of mine from Thomas Merton which always offers me comfort and hope, especially during these trying times.
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, 1956
Michael Moore is a retired USAF Chaplain and pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who currently lives in Estes Park, Colorado with his wife and partner in life and ministry, Denise. His undergraduate degree is in Business Administration (University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire) and he earned his Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (Saint Paul, MN). He served two small yoked Presbyterian Churches in rural Fergus Falls, MN for three years before going on Active Duty with the USAF for 21 years. Following his retirement, he served a church in Florida for four years before going to his current call in Estes Park in 2015. He has a Certificate in Christian Spiritual Formation from Columbia Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA.