Rather than heehaw and speculate over the unknown ins and outs of my upcoming stay at a monastery in New Mexico, let me simply share what I do know (with tidbits of what I don’t know, too, because sharing one’s ignorance is mildly entertaining).
I know that on Thursday morning I’ll be meeting some monk brothers in the low-rider capital of the world – a town called Española. What I don’t know is if these monk brothers will be driving a low-rider. We'll then travel to The Monastery of the Holy Archangel Michael.
I know that the monastery’s superior monk is named Father Silouan and that he speaks English – we’ve spoken on the phone. What I don’t know is just about everything else there is to know about a person.
Thanks to Google, I know that the monastery is situated in the high desert foothills of the Jemez Mountain range. What I don’t know is if I’ll be allowed to wander around these surrounding hills.
Father Silouan has agreed to let me stay with his community of monk brothers for two weeks, as they live and work to maintain an inner calm (hesychia) and emulate Christ. The second week of my stay might prove to be particularly quiet because it marks the beginning of the Lenten period on the Church calendar, which is a time for additional focus on fasting, prayer, and penitence in remembrance of Christ’s forty days spent in the Judean wilderness being tempted by the Devil.
I know that this is a journey I’m grateful to be on right now. What I don’t know is where it’s going to take me.
What do you know? And what would you like to know? I’ll be taking plenty of my own questions with me to New Mexico, but I’ve left room for some of yours as well. Please share them (email, comment, etc.) soon since I'll be without internet access from Thursday onward (thank God!).
St. Antony of Egypt, the father of Christian monasticism, said that “a monk outside of his monastery is like a fish out of water.” This idiom applies inversely, with generous alterations, to my own situation: “a man outside of his known world is like a fish traveling by train to the high desert of New Mexico.”
These last few weeks have been filled with a great deal of studying, writing, and thinking, but now it’s time to go deeper. It’s time to immerse into another world and experientially discern all that I don’t now know.
Thanks for journeying along with me,