November 2019: Being Set Apart
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. (Mark 6:30-33)
Separation for a time, from just about anything, gives us new perspectives, a distance that can be good or difficult, and often a much-needed break before we return with renewed energy. When used for building ourselves up and increasing our capacity for giving then our withdrawing for a time becomes a gift from God to the contexts where God sends us next as well.
We put a distance between ourselves and some parts of our ‘normal’ life, in order to pursue a new intimacy with Jesus, a greater capacity for joy and new ways to share the love of God.
Living it out in Community
The entire experience was putting distance between ourselves and our ‘normal’ life – quite literally, as we moved 16884.43 kilometres away for a monastic year. Having five different retreats throughout the year, and time with other monastic communities meant we were essential having monastic breaks from monastic life! On a day to day basis we had several hours of silence every morning, as well as specific times at either end of the day to pray and read the Bible. This ‘withdrawing’ was an important part of maintaining community life.
Living it out as an Alumni
Here are three simple practices I’ll be doing in November to live out this rule of life more intentionally.
One: Do Bible reading at night. Mornings are not my thing and there is never space for “quiet time” in this stage of life with a toddler. I’m much more alert at night and I can combine Bible reading with my end-of-day Ignatian-style reflection in my Monk Manual and Evening Prayer on podcast.
Two: Incremental changes to technology. Since losing my Garmin watch in Malaysia, my phone is back following me everywhere. Every time I make progress in this area, I relapse. One thing I can do, is put my phone in a different room when I sleep (all the books recommend that!) and set up an alarm clock. Not that I’ll need to set it, as my toddler alarm does a pretty great job every morning! I’m hoping the book (below) will help me in this area also.
Three: Read a Book!
I’ll be reading through Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons and alongside that the journal companion. The four things she talks about are rest, restore, connect and create. I’ll be focussing on the first two, in November.