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
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?
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.
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.
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.