Benedictine, chanting, dwelling place of God, monastery, monks, psalm 42, silence, The Sophia Center for Spirituality, thirst
On this morning of “return” to this blogging practice, I feel as if the lectionary choice of Psalm 42 was chosen just for me. As the hind longs for running streams, the psalmist sings, so my soul longs for you, O God. When shall I go and behold the face of God? Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.
I spent the past four days on a high mountain in the hills of California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, at a Benedictine monastery that was as representative as any place I can imagine of the dwelling place of God. Three times a day our group (12 people) joined the monks to chant the psalms and prayers of the liturgy of the hours, gathered again for Eucharist and twice a day for 90 minutes of deep conversation about our desire and willingness to follow God’s Spirit in the living of our lives. Outside of those times we were in total silence and solitude, taking our meals in our “cells” and basking in the beauty that is God’s glorious work of creation. Speaking of cells, there was no cell phone coverage or internet access on the mountain – only a land phone for emergencies. We were totally in God’s hands and at God’s disposal.
My gratitude for the experience of time on God’s holy mountain is profound. My renewed sense that I can carry “the inner mountain” of God’s presence anywhere I find myself if I am willing to fuel that ability by a consistent practice of silence is the hope with which I come home. I will, I think, make a sign for my bedroom door that I will see as I exit each morning to remind me (lest I forget) that athirst is my soul for God, the living God! (Ps. 42:3a)