I used to envy those living inside monastery walls. I spent 15 minutes, once, in consideration of joining the local convent. 15 whole minutes!
I used to yearn to spend all of my waking hours in meditation and prayer. Believing that maybe, if I wasn’t so distracted by the world, I’d be able to claim a larger portion of God’s presence for myself.
Now, many years later, I find myself effectively cloistered. 2 years ago, our family moved 300 miles away from all of our family and friends. To a rural community of 500. In the great state of Iowa.
Suffice it to say, I don’t fit in here.
People are generally friendly here. But it’s different. We will always be outsiders here, looked upon with a certain suspicion, because we aren’t from around here. That’s ok. That’s how small towns work.
I’m just not a small town gal.
For the first several months the quiet was exhilarating. We moved from living very inner-city metro to living very very rural-farming community. The change was refreshing. I had plenty of peace in which to pray. Lots of space for gardening. But… Within a very short period of time, I ran out of things to pray about. No crime. No evictions of neighbors. No little children wandering around asking for food. No drive- by shootings. Life here was too easy. Too quiet. Too… Boring.
God must have to stifle His laughter when He hears my prayers. Before, I asked for more open spaces, a larger home, an expansive yard, and the ability to put some distance between myself and the rest of the world. He gave me exactly what I asked for.
But now, I don’t want to live separately from the rest of the world. I want to be a part of it, I want to find a way to carve out a place in it for me. Sure, Jesus spent time on the mountain, away from everything, for prayer… But He didn’t live there. He lived in community.
I want to live in community. And not a monastic one, either. I want to see angry faces and hurried people and traffic jams and urban decay. Maybe, if I go to a place with more people, I’ll have a better chance of finding others like me. Or at least, find a place that will happily make room for someone like me. It’s worth trying, right?
Whatever it is I have to offer the world for Christ, it isn’t of use here. At least, I don’t feel that it is. So I’m asking God to guide me onto the path that will lead me to where there is a need for what I have. Even if that leads me right back into the same messy metro life I once tried to escape from. Because being cloistered isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.