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I’ve been on a Celtic Christian-based monastic path since 2011.  Shortly after stumbling across this Trinity-centric,celtictrinity knot wonderfully earthy, and at the same time mystical expression of the Christian faith, I was hooked.

Never ‘fitting right’ in regular church, I am still astonished that there exists a way of faith so utterly in line with who I am.  From cultural aesthetics to eco-honouring asceticism to celebration of Creation, all wound about with reverence for and Oneness with the Creator, (and other happy paradoxes), I continue to find it a delight.

Back in 2011, when I embraced this way, I received a distinct ‘call to transformation’ from God.  It went like this:

“Take the name
Take the habit
Pray the hours
Renounce excess

It’s ok that this will take time”

There was more to it, but this is what was to shape my daily life.

I started right away memorising St. Patrick’s Breastplate and beginning an on again-off again relationship with praying the hours.  Same for efforts at simplifying my home and my eating.  Some times were better than others, but overall improvement has been consistent, if slow, and is ongoing.   Good thing it was ok to take time!

I was given Grace to immediately lay down some passions that required a lot of time and creativity, and funnel that time into developing stillness and contemplation as a significant part of my lifestyle.  Among people I spent time with, I took the name I now bear, which then became my legal name.

Taking the habit for the first years involved letting go earrings, then make-up, then wearing only solid colours, preferably green or blue, in natural fabrics. I in no way think this is something anyone else ‘should’ be doing, it’s just been my attempt at obedience to a specific call.

But there are layers as we go deeper into spiritual life, and in the past months I’ve been drawn to revisit this initial call, and take it to another level.  Legally taking my current name over a year ago was a significant step, but attention has been drawn to the other aspects as well now.

Despite demands for my attention at home and work, I’m spending more, not less time in my cell, about my spiritual practices (also known as wasting time with God).  By Grace my eating has been radically simplified to allow for more time on what really matters and that leaves… the matter of the habit.

 

The pressure is building. I need to take the habit.  It’s part of the call.

I knew right from the beginning that I would eventually wear one full time.  Because taking a habit is not something one can do part time, or at least I can’t.

I figured that it would be more acceptable for me to wear a monk’s habit if I got ordained.  I contacted a reputable Canadian denomination that ordains chaplains.  It has a refreshing and not incompatible view on church authority, and they were very positive toward ordaining me.  But God brought me up short, on several counts.

Being ordained was never part of the call.

Being ordained has nothing to do with whether or not I’m not a monk.  I’m a monk because I’m a monk.  The motivations that chased the Desert Mothers and Fathers into the desert are the same that have moved me to embrace a counter-culture and counter-common-Christian lifestyle for myself and my family.

I thought being ordained would make me wearing a habit more acceptable to people, or in some way lend credibility to how I follow the call of God.  But I’m not to wear a habit in order to be acceptable to people.  I’m to wear a habit because it has been asked of me.

It’s amazing how we can think we are surrendered, and of course we are more than we used to be, but there is further yet to go.

So – am I surrendering in this?

Well, as it stands, I saved up, and I have in fact ordered a habit.  It is being made and will arrive in a month or two.

In the meantime, I’m agonising about it.

Some days I have such peace and I’m excited for it to arrive!  Other days, I picture the scenarios I know will come.  It’s a lot to live up to.

I’m not up for it.

But how can I refuse?

Thankfully, the Celtic monks never claimed to have achieved perfection, only to be on a journey, and the Desert Mothers and Fathers had much compassion for those wanting to follow a monastic way but struggled to maintain it.  It seems I will be in good company.

Still, I’m having surprisingly strong emotional responses as I wrestle with this.  It’s easy to say “If I must choose, I would please God rather than people.”  But to come down to it in such a daily practical area is difficult, and it will come down to a choice, every day.

But even without a habit, it already does, doesn’t it?

Desert Mothers

Desert Mothers

 

 

 

 

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