Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Seeking Communion (Or Why I don't want to enter a convent)

Liv Migenes writes in her blog Writings from a Faithful Doubter of her yearning for solitud to better hear God's voice. She writes "I yearn to live biblically. Not the "no-make-up, no-earrings, no...no...no" Christianity but a Christ-mirroring Christianity. I long to go away and shed the confusing, restrictive bindings of this world and even of this religion".

I can see why it is so enticing. I think all of us Christians feel this call for solitud, time alone with God. It is an esential part of our journey as a Christian. We need to spend time with God. It is a thirst, a healthy apetite, hunger that needs to satiated.

But at the same time the hunger is turned into something else. Just like we thirst for water and find ourselves drinking a soda, or hunger for a good meal and start eating a hamburger with fries. Our healthy hunger for God, thirst for the living water that is Jesus, is thwarted, confounded by smoke and mirrors.

And the smoke and mirrors here is the convent.

Migenes continues "There are times like today that I wish I could enter a convent. I think part of me would be happy. At least in what I imagine convent life to be. Detached to the cares of the world and yet attached to fellowship. Simple living with hours devoted to worship and prayer. Disconnected yet connected".
I admire her way to describe a yearning that I feel. This is it, my heart sings. I want to detach myself from the world and attatch myself to something more worthy. Devote my life to worship and prayer. I want to enter a convent also!

I haven't got a lot of experience of convents. Just the fact that I live in a country with long history with Catholicism that is filled with convents and monasteries. I know intelectually what a convent means. I know that there are different orders that dedicate themselves to different things. I know about Mother Theresa and her work. I even have entered to a monastery, at least to their museum and I have many times walked pass monasteries and convents. But I have not really experienced a convent. I only have a mental image of one.

And I think that is where the smoke and mirrors come. I imagine the convent as something dedicated to contemplation of God's word. A place where I can dedicate myself solely to seeking Jesus and His will. But is that really the truth?
A friend of mine told me once that she wanted to be a nun. She was raised in a very Catholic home, went to a Catholic all girls' school that was run by nuns and she thought that life of a nun must be wonderful. Just reading Bible, spending time in the church, contemplating the glory of Jesus, the saints, the miracles and Virgen Mary.

Then she had a long and sincere conversation with a nun, as an adult. And that conversation changed her. She told me that she never thought that nuns cared about things like that. That they would bicker, that there would be lazy nuns, that they would care about "mundane" things, that they would be just normal people!

So, our first mirage, the smoke and mirrors, is that convent is really just a community of people, humans like us. Most of the nuns and monks aren't saints, more than any other Christian trying to fulfill God's will.

But more serious for me is the ultimite lie, the real show of smoke and mirrors that occurs to us.
Most of the Christians never enter to live in a convent or a monastery. Not even Catholics or other Christian religions that have convents and monasteries. But especially evangelic Christians who don't have them.

Why then this need for a convent? One reason, in my opinion, is what Migenes herself states "That cozy convent that I'm ready to run to is just a way for me to avoid what seems impossibly overwhelming".

The convent seems an easy option, escape from the reality. Somewhere perfect, almost like heaven, just dedicated to God.

But for me that is just more smoke and mirrors to cover the original smoke and mirrors. The ultimite lie is that we need a special place to contemplate God. That we can't do it in our busy everyday lives. That we can't make our own homes a place of worship but we need to go somewhere special to do it, be someone special.
 A lie that makes it OK that I don't pray every day. That I forgot to read Bible today. That I didn't follow the ten commands. After all, I live in the fallen world. I'm not perfect. It's not like I lived in a convent and could dedicate all my time to just contemplate God's glory.

This makes me admire Migenes even more. Because she isn't fooled by the lie. She sees beyond the smoke and the mirrors. She recognizes her real hunger and thirst "The imagined convent becomes be my prayer closet - a reverent place where I meet with God and I am intimately sustained by His love. A time to lift up those in my "world" who are drowning in the darkness and can't call out for help. A time to remember that greater is He who is in me then he that is in the world. A time to draw nearer to the holy fire of His presence where my light burns brightly".

I want to dedicate a closet in my house for prayer... But I need a bigger closet...

Smoke and mirrors!

I want to dedicate myself to God, now, here, everywhere, every moment!

The post by Liv Migenes is called "Seeking Solitude (Or Why I Want To Enter a Convent)". You can find the original posting here.

14 comments:

  1. That church is absolutely beautiful! I really enjoyed your article. We often get caught up in "life" and forget God gave us this life!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed. And it is very true what you say, we make living a task and race and forget to enjoy the the scenery while we go on.

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  2. Silence and serenity is nice, but it needs to come seldom so we remember to stop. I would not want to visit-I like hectic, stressfull family life!

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    1. I like the hectic and busy also, my preferred lifestyle is controlled caos, and sometimes not so controlled. But I do need times to be alone and in silence, I think we all need to find that balance.

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  3. I've never been to one, I grew up in a religious family and while I fell away, I seek peace through my own spirituality. Thanks so much for sharing this! loved reading it!

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, Cindy. I have only visited monasteries, never stayed in one for a longer period but they do have this special air of calm and quietud.

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  4. Beautiful photos, but personally I could never "join" one as I'd feel trapped... or maybe that is why some "join"...

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    1. I think they feel it as safety, not a trap. But if it's not for you, you should not do it.

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  5. Such beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing this!

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  6. life can get so hectic it is always nice to have a place to reflect and remember our blessings. The church is stunning and one day I would hope to visit:)

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    1. I hope you get the chance to visit, Tiffany. Ecuador is very beautiful and there is a lot to see. Especially churches :)

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  7. Great photos. I also never had the chance to visit one.

    Michelle F.

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  8. Beautiful picture of the church!

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  9. That church is absolutely beautiful! My four year old thinks so too, she said, "Can we go there?" :) I really need to devote more time in each day to reading my Bible as well!

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