15 June 2007


... on yesterday's post. In this morning's installation, the last in the series, Thomas writes:

'Monasteries are notionally very peaceful places—there's nothing to do but what you choose to do. '

'Scuse me a moment while I collect myself.


Maybe there's nothing for you to do while you're at a monastery, buster, but if you think that's the life of a monk (which you seem to suggest it is) then you're not paying close attention. St Benedict prescribed a life of 'ora et labora' -- prayer and work -- and trust me, you don't raise vegetables for a monastic community, or prepare their meals, or wash the dishes, or anything else necessary to the survival of the community without hard, regular work. When was the last time you kept a large vegetable garden? You don't water the tomatos when you feel like it, or 'choose' not to hill the potatoes if you expect to actually have tomatoes or potatoes in their proper season.

It's one thing to go to a monastery for a week's retreat and leave with the awareness that you're not cut out for monastic life. It's entirely another to go in and be willfully obtuse about it.

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