Getting in Touch with our Inner Monk

23844-St-Benedict_WI recently attended a day retreat at Chester Cathedral.  The speaker was Father Christopher Jamison, the former Abbott of Worth Abbey in West Sussex who featured in the 2005 BBC television series The Monastery, where five laymen experienced Christian spirituality in a Benedictine monastery.  I remember being fascinated by the series at the time.  In fact, I have always been interested in monasticism.  Some children dream of running away to join the circus; I dreamt of joining the monks on Caldey Island.  That is a strange admission for a Baptist minister to make!
I suppose I am drawn to monasticism for three reasons: Firstly its emphasis on PRAYER.  At the retreat Father Jamison spoke of the many wants that dominate our lives, and contrasted these with our deeper longings – the longing for meaning and purpose and a connection with God.   Prayer, he said, puts us in touch with these deeper longings. In prayer our longing for God meets God’s longing for us.  Secondly, monasticism places an emphasis on COMMUNITY. Our search for individual fulfilment can only be realised in relationship with others.  Thirdly, monasticism places an emphasis on SUSTAINABILITY.  Monks have always been committed to simple living, providing for themselves through farming and craft making.  The Belgian Trappists are famous for producing the finest beer in the world (I am particularly attracted to that way of life!).
Father Jamison has written a book entitled Finding Happiness: Monastic Steps For A Fulfilling Life. I believe that the monastic tradition has a great deal to teach us.  Could it be that prayer, community and sustainable living are key to our quest to lead happy and fulfilled lives?  I think so.
God bless,

Rev. James