A Divinely Inspired (?) Story Idea

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This past weekend I was at a retreat at a Monastery- 48 hours of silence and sitting in the abbey 7 times a day for prayers.   This little retreat took place at a Trappist Monastery about 45 minutes from Atlanta (where I live).  I joined a much more spiritually enlightened friend there last year and had to come back again this year.  They have a non-denominational retreat house where anyone can stay and live in silence while you are there- I’m not Catholic (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and not even religious, but the benefit of dropping out for two days a year to get quiet and just be is immense.

This is their church.  They built it themselves!

This is their church. They built it themselves!

Now that I’ve convinced you I’m a complete weirdo, let me get to my idea.  As I was sitting there at 4am listening to the monks sing their prayers–and trying not to nod off–I thought to myself “these men do this day after day, year after year…”  Seasons change, natural disasters, new presidents ushered into office–in essence, the world turns and these men are here doing their thing just as they have for almost a thousand years (65 years in Georgia).  But I know almost nothing about them.  What brought them here?  What were they like as kids?  Do they get bored?  Do they miss “normal” life?  How does one BECOME a monk anyway?

There are a couple weaknesses here: 1)  there probably isn’t a NEED to tell this story.  We are looking at a very very small population that the vast majority of people have no interaction with.  2) getting my questions answered might prove difficult.  Monks tend to be pretty soft-spoken folks and any information would probably have to come from secondary sources like memoirs, etc. 3) if I put my work hat on, this wouldn’t necessarily be a topic on which to train–the purpose would be to inform or enlighten but not necessarily prep anyone to do anything.

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2 thoughts on “A Divinely Inspired (?) Story Idea

  1. Pingback: So long, farewell Week 2… | I haven't a clue what I'm doing!

  2. That’s okay that the idea on face value might not pan out; this is why I am asking you to brainstorm once a week, so you have a collection of possibilities for the project. The thing that I like is that you had an experience that somehow suggested itself as an opportunity for this; it tells me you have your antennae up.

    I work with a colleague in England who is a Buddhist and she has shared ideas of her experiences on retreats, and is using it to develop a site to help people practice acts of balance in their busy lives, inspired by what it sounds you experience, the gains of the time away to focus on thoughts w/o distraction.

    So maybe it’s not the monk’s story to tell, but of the habit of retreat, or what the act of that focus can do in our lives. Or maybe it is, as you suggest, something remarkable as a generic monk character who has persisted as you describe, through so much change and history. A story on that at a general level, might increase understanding into a world not many people enter.

    Or maybe there is something in the rituals of the monastery (their approach to food?) Or maybe that process of leaving the world behind you and coming back to it as a story path?

    Anyhow, just trying on ideas is good, even if they get discarded.

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