Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thinking Too Much

I become consciously aware of a slightly ironic situation going on that surprised me when I thought about it. It’s one of those things that you know about but vaguely, and when you do wake up to it, you’re a little surprised.

I need to explain.

I have a study downstairs in our basement. It’s an ideal place to study, read, or write blog posts. It has lots of work space, cabinets, drawers, etc. I have a nice desktop computer with a big screen and great sound system. It really is ideal. The problem is, that for the last year or so, I’ll go down, sit myself in front of the computer, and stare at the screen. I can’t do a lick of work down there. I just go on automatic pilot and become a vegetable.

On the other hand, I have a little space in one corner of our living room with an old Kennedy rocker in it. It’s open to a fairly high traffic area, in fact to most of what goes on in the house. I also have a little net-book computer that has a small screen and touchy keyboard. Yet, when I take that netbook and sit down in that rocker, I could write or read or study all day. It’s crazy.

Oh, and to add a further little twist, one thing I use my study for on an almost daily basis, is lectio. Go figure.

I got to thinking about the situation, and my train of thought led me to think about the very essence of being Christian. If you think about it, the entire basis of our faith is paradox, if not downright irony. First, the very idea of a Messiah who comes as the sacrificial lamb who was slain, not the much expected conquering hero. There is the truth about Christ’s dying destroying death, and that we Christians must die to ourselves to live. Baptism, a sacramental drowning and rebirth is a huge paradox. I could go on, the mysteries are endless.

And that is why I came into the Church, at least one reason. The Church doesn’t deny or try to explain away these mysteries, they accept them as such. Coming from a Presbyterian background with its emphasis on the intellectual, this was a refreshing change and it made sense of things I had struggled with for years, and years, and years. It’s also present in Benedictine spirituality in spades. It is the ultimate paradox that a monk would retreat within cloister walls in order to be truly and finally free.

So, my little paradox has reminded me of many things that are deeply important and that I tend to take for granted in my faith. I think it was a touch of grace, or, perhaps I’m just thinking too much.


John said...

The Benedictine irony is a fascinating part of the Benedictine life, I liked your pointing to the monk who finally finds freedom.

Your post reminded of a quote over on the in an article about “A Gospel motivation for the monastic life:”

“In closing, a short story from my own experience. I met with an old monk and spiritual mentor some years ago, and our conversation quickly turned to the monastic life. I said to him, ‘Father I don't know if I am ready to become a monk; I don't know if I can so easily run away from the world.' He replied, ‘No, indeed you are not ready. No one is ready for the tonsure until they stop seeing it as running away from the world, and start seeing it as running toward Jesus Christ.'”

David said...


I so appreciate you sharing your intimate journey with the world that is just a click away.

This is a beautiful reflection on paradox.



Ron said...


Thank you. But I have to say I feel I'm learning something from you. You write with an obviously heartfelt sincerety that is refreshing in this day and age of "spin." I think that's at the heart of the Benedictine, and Oblate, vocation and something I am still learning to understand and appreciate.


John said...

Thanks Ron!