Let’s be Monks, Shall We?
Rest Mountain - Part 3

One of the most restful things I ever did was spend a weekend at a monastery in Georgia.

I don’t know how many monasteries offer this kind of thing, but . . . in January 2008 I drove several miles to a nearby monastery and checked into a simple but adequate room for a weekend stay. I had made a reservation, of course, in advance. This particular monastery accepted whatever amount of payment you could make for the weekend (although they did suggest a modest amount). I had a room with a bed and a sink, and showers were down the hall. They supplied three nice meals per day in the cafeteria, but there was a strict “no talking” rule there. There were classes one could attend, and various religious activities in the sanctuary. But you were free to spend your time as you pleased.

I read, wrote, prayed, ruminated, strolled, and explored the buildings and grounds. A heavy snow began to fall my first full day there. The weekend was absolutely beautiful in every way. I gained insights about myself that were phenomenal, and I left rested and rejuvenated the day I departed, in spite of the ice that made travel a bit precarious.

An inexpensive weekend that my wife encouraged me to spend in a rather unlikely place . . . turned into an absolute joy.

Rest!

It’s the one thing we all desperately need, but seldom engage in. It’s hard for an athlete to take time off from his/her exercise regimen. It’s like pulling teeth to get someone who feels the demands of their job to just stop working. We always feel that if we rest we might get left behind by others who are not resting, but forging ahead.

When we finally fall into bed at night we often affirm Mark Twain’s assertion about modern man, i.e. that he gets “the sleep that does not refresh.”

We just refuse to slow down, don’t we? Until it is forced upon us, that is. Until health or emotional concerns reach critical mass, and we are made to deal with issues that could have been resolved more easily with – rest.

Modern human beings seem to have a penchant for separating themselves from themselves, ignoring feelings, overlooking symptoms, denying themselves the proper time and space to get in touch with themselves without distraction.

The tortoise and the hare have a lesson to teach us all, don’t they?

Now . . . where is the nearest monastery? The nearest quiet stream? The closest little park with green grass, trees, and a bench for sitting?

I offer the following tips:

  1. Start out slowly. That is, make your rest stop only 5 or 10 minutes long at first.
  2. Pay attention to the weather, the feel of the air around you.
  3. Remember to breathe.

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2 comments

  1. this comment is not intended to be irreverent. Rather than a monastery, I love to go to a spa. Not the stay a week and spend thousands, but the local spa for a massage or facial or a pedicure. It’s a way of pampering myself and focus on the rest that comes with human touch. Just having my feet and legs massaged and sitting in a massage chair are refreshing for me. this could be just a girl thing. I have lots of woods and a walking path with a stream behind my house which I take advantage of more frequently and use the time to listen to musing on my iphone. Finding the sweet spot for rest is certainly individual, but the older I am the more I work these quiet times in my week for rest. My prayer partner’s husband takes 30 minutes or so a day and goes to a local pond to fish – his time; his rest.

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