I began “twittering,” over six months ago, intending to draw attention to a retreat center and potential monastery (http://www.saintlaurenceosb.org/index.html). Emerging from my twitters grew enjoyable conversations along with definite consumption of my time. Most who have and are still twittering know about the time issue.
At first, like everyone else, I strove to connect with a large number of fellow twitters. Out of that group I hoped to extract a few who had both the interest and money to invest in further developing the St. Laurence Retreat Center. My investment of time has drawn some attention to the St. Laurence Retreat Center, but I’m still seven thousand under the bare minimum, I had set. Right now, I figure that the proverbial snowball has a better chance.
Over the past two weekends I was at that retreat center as a frocked Benedictine oblate. Those visits were a wonderful time. At the last retreat, the speaker advocated a simplified and restricted form of the Jesus prayer. Most of the people around the room were, I think, hearing about this fashion of prayer for the first time. So then, his restriction made sense. However, within a minute or so, he rejected ever stepping further into such a life of prayer life. His, stance triggered an unexpected challenge in me.
I walked away disappointed by his rejection of this normal Eastern Orthodox fashion of mysticism. After leaving the sanctuary, I walked on down the narrow Rocky Mountain valley giving myself time to try and accommodate to his stance. An hour, or so, later I felt an unexpected yielding within me. Emerging from the restriction he had voiced were glimpses of my own. His stance drew my attention to the shallow water I had wadded in for years.
The “complexities” of God’s activities had just rubbed my nose in my own resistances. At first indirectly, but now directly, a hesychastic tendency has been materializing in me. Its’ tailoring of consciousness has influenced me over the past three decades.
In general, westerners are more likely to know about Zen Buddhism than Hesychasm. That is wonderful since Zen Buddhism gives a partial introduction to the hesychastic fashion of praying. Like Zen Buddhism there is, shall we say, a refashioning of self. Core to the hesychastic fashion of walking with God is the Jesus prayer. It was in that prayer that my nose was rubbed.
So far, I have peacefully and childishly played at the prayer’s needed refashioning of self. What I had not, till this past weekend, given up were my “unconscious” resistances. Now, though, it is the “non-conscious” which has taken hold of me at unanticipated levels and from unexpected directions. I have chosen for years the hyphenated word “non-conscious” as my means of portraying consciousness as a restriction and not an openness. As I understand hesychasm, it is a letting go of how I have learned to connect myself with reality.
Across a couple of days after the retreat, I began realizing how deeply I am attracted to the hesychastic fashion of walking with God. What I experienced that weekend dramatically pointed me toward a remodeling of self I had not anticipated. Because of neurosurgeries eight years ago, I have to be careful in fashioning his daily life. Twittering, without my problems, requires a good bit of effort to keep shifting attention. This hasn’t been bad for me. It is now, though, one of several things that I need to set aside, if I’m going to test myself in this fashion of prayer. Because of the speakers comment I came to the point of realizing that I needed to cull out twittering. So then, I am giving myself permission to step away from something that is enjoyable so that I can finish taking another step.
To those of you who have given me great pleasure by twittering with me I apologize, without shame. It is not you that I stepping away from, I am stepping into a way of life that I have thought about and played in for years. I am planning on maintaining this WordPress page for the foreseeable future. It serves as a means, along with email to keep connected with people. I will also be tracking the blogs that I know about.
Thank you for the conversations.