This past Monday I spent the MLK holiday on a retreat with Meredith at Bellarmine University. We were invited to spend the day with Br. Paul Quenon in monastic prayer & were offered a lecture on Solitude, Loneliness, and God.
It was a wonderful experience to have been blessed with. I stood in the chapel praying the hours with others, with strangers. Our only bond being the deep hunger for satisfaction of the hunger that growled at the very core of our soul. We listened to our voices call out the psalm of the hour and offer our beloved Creator these frail, finite voices that dare utter a name that seeks to be a holder of majesty beyond belief.
I soaked in the words of this beatnik monk like I soak in the controlled chaos of Charles Mingus. Br. Paul says, “If you meditate seeking results you’ll be disappointed. Meditation draws you nearer to God & Gods love.” I respond with silence convicted that I wanted results more than I wanted nearer to God. Well I wanted the nearer if that was the result.
Br. Paul says, “God is not a thing…God is more like no-thing.” I respond with a longing breath, knowing that I am far from releasing my hold on anything. Let alone my grasp of that which I call God. I embrace the failing tools that I have access to and seek a language to decipher what has happened. Language is an insufficient holder for the majesty of God. Yet, through language God meets us [creation] where we are.
Br. Paul says, “When it comes to self serving we awaken to the reality that there I ultimately no self to serve.” I try to ignore the pompous stare that glares at me from behind my own pride and attempt to hold back my, “I know that.”
Br. Paul says, “God doesn’t ask for sacrifice, God bids things to be done…religion becomes idolatry when it seeks to form God & not be formed in God.” I want to weep when I realize that I am the Aaron of the lot and have fashioned so many golden calves in my life. I pray for am emptying of my heart to be filled by the formless void that is God and contains all that ever was and ever shall be.
Br. Paul says, “Presumption is the crime of adultery.” The thought enters my mind. Rather I believe it to be the Holy Spirit placing its anointing tongue upon my brow and says, “the sin of the church is to presume people need her & that we are firm in faith enough to be tethered too.” I cannot react my conviction is too much to bear.
Br. Paul says, “Solitude is a specialty of monks, but we are all lonely aren’t we?”