Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life
The monastic life is often misunderstood and looked down upon by many of us in the rough and tumble world outside the seeming protective walls of the monastery. But what if you could both come to understand the monastic life and learn how to bring the sanctuary of that environ to your modern living in the outside world? Abbot Christopher Jamison presents a 7 step approach to building sanctuary into your life using the secrets and tenants of the desert father monks and nuns from the third century AD. By incorporating Silence, Contemplation, Obedience, Humility, Community, Spirituality, and Hope into your life as practice and perspective from which you view your life and the world around you, it is possible, according to the author, to build monastery-like sanctuary into your modern, everyday life.
I like the examples that Jamison uses from life in the monastery, hermit history, and the experiences of outside visitors to the monastery. It shows that there is order and discipline and experience behind the methods. It also underscores the fact that monks don’t just sit around in a insulated world that is easy to manage because of a lack of stress and chaos in the daily lives of the participants. The monks work hard and have their own stressors and must deal with challenges in their lives that are often dispiriting. The path they choose is by no means an easy one. Jamison provides readers with his years of experience working towards a state of inner sanctuary as a foundation for lessons and explanations that make it possible for those of us outside the monastery to cultivate sanctuary in our hectic lives.
As an aside, I was intrigued by the concept of Lectio Divina as a means of reading and contemplating biblical text. By consciously engaging biblical passages in the separate steps of reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating one extracts the most from the biblical readings as not just text, but the living word of God. Jamison brings this up in the chapter on contemplation and provides a short example/tutorial in the afterword of the book, utilizing the parable of the prodigal son . To be sure, this book provides only a bare bones introduction to this technique. None-the-less, I found this I instructive and fascinating. I will investigate this further. I bring it up because it is yet another learning point for me that came as a result of reading this book. Abbot Jamison is a great teacher.