Recently, my brother Don was reminding me how lucky we monastics are not to have to worry about car payments, insurance payments, income tax payments, etc. His comments made me ponder again how it is that the vows we take both bring us great benefits and also responsibilities and challenges.
We have made vows to follow the monastic way. Thus, we have promised to remain single—not to have a family of our own (chastity). The monastic way means we have pooled all our resources and pledged not to build up finances of our own and to live simply (poverty). We have given up following a career of our own in order to make ourselves available for the particular needs of community life and to be able respond to the ways our community leadership asks us to help support the community.
The reason we have given ourselves over to all the demands of our vows is so that we are more free to focus our attention on our search for God while living within the monastic community. The constant challenge for me is to keep remembering why I have given up marriage, family, my own finances and a career. I have given up these pleasures and also these burdens in order to have more opportunity to give undivided attention to seeking God in a committed, communal life.
Living my vowed life faithfully may also provide a clarifying principle for others. I believe the benefits of living this vowed life go beyond just those of us who are monastics. Those living in the world in the midst of all the complexities that are a part of that life are also busy keeping a focus on what life is really about. I believe they watch me and my Sisters who have sold everything to possess the pearl of great price. They look to us for a joyful testimony that there indeed is a pearl of great price.
photo: Sister Linda Kulzer with a young friend at the annual Donor Appreciation Day celebration at the monastery.