Greetings and Pax Christi,
I’m not sure why I’m writing this except that tonight I feel the sharp pang of not having been able to become a monk owing to chronic kidney disease all my life. I feel like I have failed somehow. I pray and meditate but I almost daily feel the pain of not living among brother monks engaged in the simple work of our hearts and hands. I ask myself, What did I do wrong?
The Abbot of the last monastery that refused to accept me said that maybe my calling is that of Benedict Labre, to wander in the world, sick and seeking. He seriously meant it. And I have never forgotten his words. Maybe that is my calling, to wander and thirst for a spiritual home I never find, but it is not an easy one to follow. My eyes tear up as I write this. I am without family and friends near me right now. I cling as best I can with faith in God. I tell myself, “More will be revealed.”
There is a poem by a Sufi poet by the name of Hafiz that I like that I recite to myself at times like this. I could have been written by a Christian. Here it is:
Do not surrender your longing too quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you in ways few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight has made my eyes so soft, my heart so tender, my need for God so absolutely clear.
Perhaps others of you also feel that you are monks / nuns/ or hermits “in exile.” Perhaps chronic illness is the reason? I I would love to talk with you and exchange messages. I cannot walk this path on my own. There is no spiritual desert as harsh as the world in which we live. I need your help and the help of others contemplatives like Benedict Labre who sometimes feel like they are on a perpetual pilgrimage toward a vocation that never materializes. I would love to know there are others out there like me and provide in return whatever support for you I can.
In Christ…B. L.