Monday, November 06, 2006

Just me and my "cell" ...

Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B., writing in Essential Monastic Wisdom, has this to say about the appeal of the study, den, or monastic cell:

"It is one thing to love one's room because one is so
stressed out by work, crowds, talking, rushing from
one appointment to the next, answering phone messages,
that one's room is a place where one can collapse in peace.
It is another thing to find somewhere a place of silence
and creativity, where one can listen for the voice of God
and think one's own thoughts and be one's own self."

Hmmm ... This made me think. I do have a room, up at the top of my house, where I go to read, think, and pray. It's pretty comfortable, probably too comfortable. In addition to my desk and laptop computer, there's a wall of built-in bookshelves (rapidly getting full), a comfy chair with an ottoman, good reading lights, and a window to look out. In addition, numerous tchotchkes: candles (who can function without candles?), pictures of the kids on two walls, the random icon or two. I am making the clutter sound minimal, but it really isn't. Almost every little thing that give me comfort is there.

I'm wondering now which of Fr. Feiss's statements really applies to me: am I hiding in my room, surrounded by comfortable, happy clutter, or am I listening for God and being more myself? Probably both -- it strikes me that they are not mutually exclusive. Certainly I do retreat up there from the din of sports on TV (and much of the year there is nothing on at our house but sports); but maybe retreat precedes listening. I really function altogether better in the quiet. I have been known to read Evening Prayer on the commuter train ... but it's not the same as my room.

So maybe I will try to be less cosy there, and more attentive.

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