Monasteries of the Heart

Old Monk's Journal

Journal Entry 153

I’m reading David Steindl-Rast: Essential Writings, a Benedictine monk whom I greatly admire. I’m trying to be careful that I don’t copy most of his writings into my commonplace book. But this morning I did copy this thought from an interview he gave on reciting the Jesus prayer. Brother David said:

Journal Entry 152

I love theatre and I’ve been fortunate to see a few plays in New York, Toronto, Niagara on the Lake, London, Chautauqua Institution, and at our own Erie Playhouse, of course. A couple of these plays were award-winning and a handful are labeled “classics.”

Journal Entry 151

I have always loved stories more than facts. For example, all that I remember from my high school physics class is Archimedes sitting in a bathtub and suddenly shouting “Eureka—I have found it”. Then he jumped out of the tub and ran through the streets naked proclaiming, “I’ve got it—Eureka.” I really can’t explain what he discovered. Something about the fact that you can calculate the volume of an object by determining how much water it displaces. I do know it was an important discovery, but I loved the story the most.

Journal Entry 150

I just watched a video of a protest by a woman in a wheelchair following the release of the Senate’s version of health care bill. Stephanie Woodward was lifted from the wheelchair by police in the hallway of the Capitol building while she chanted aloud “No cuts to Medicaid.”

Journal Entry 149

I just finished typing this excerpt from a book by Joan Chittister for a publication that I’m preparing:

Journal Entry 148

The purpose of silence is to learn to hear the voices that no one else listens to. That’s what the retreat director, Bonnie Bowman Thurston, said during our community’s annual retreat this month.

Journal Entry 147

“Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire,” wrote Thomas Merton and it is this quote that set the theme for our community retreat last week.

Journal Entry 146

I’m looking forward to the community’s annual retreat this week in a special way because it focuses on Thomas Merton. And, as I’ve written before, I’m a Merton groupie. Bonnie Bowman Thurston, author and poet, is leading the 5-day retreat that she titled, “Thomas Merton on Monastic Life: Shaped by the End You Live For.”

The three sisters who live on our inner-city block prepared community prayer for the day she explores the monk’s relationship to the world. What exactly is the monastic call to fuga mundi: flight from the world?

Journal Entry 145

When I’m feeling overwhelmed or sorry for myself for “having too much to do,” I read this Prayer by Saint Teresa of Avila.

Journal Entry 144

A book on Spiritual Teachers crossed my desk recently and it got me thinking about its role in my life. I’ve never really had a spiritual director or teacher as such, someone that I met with regularly to examine my soul’s wanderings. I’ve certainly looked to books by spiritual masters for guidance and copied copious notes of teachings that challenged me or opened new doors to light.

What I’ve been blessed with, however, is what the Celtic tradition calls soul-friend. I’ve had a handful of friends who know me bone to bone and still love me. And I them.


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