What I Learn in the Monastery 2: Simplicity is Possible

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While I am here, I adhere as much as possible to the rhythms they provide: I attend mostly all of the worship and prayers (5 of them daily, beginning at 4AM and lasting to around 7:45PM). The monastery also provides breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is usually pretty simple, with the main meal being lunch. Dinner tends to be without meat: usually a soup and a salad. There are no televisions, and no computers (besides what you bring). Loud noises, music and “entertainment” are discouraged.

This is so different from how I function at home, especially in regards to food. Though I often fast during the day, I’m a pretty notorious snacker, and I gaze most of the evening. Though technically there are cookies left out all the time for the guests, I find the structure sets an expectation of, well, simplicity. So I eat dinner around 5:30PM, and then not again until 8AM or so. And I really don’t question it. 

Additionally, at the end of a day at home I still tend to fire up Netflix or AmazonPrime for at least some kind of viewing distraction. Maybe for just 45 minutes, but still the contrast is telling.

Being here tells me that this type of life is possible for me: actually I have had enough to eat at dinner, and I don’t need to snack at night. Actually, I can just sit quietly and read a book at night. (At least this year, I haven’t missed Netflix, etc., at all.)

What does it take to bring this back to my “normal” life? How do I embrace more simplicity? More structure? I know that there is a certain complexity to my life—commitments with church and children and my family and friends—but by and large there is also an invitation to say “No” to more so that I can say “Yes” to the important things.

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