Practice

In May and June, the silver maples turn into enormous seed-dispensers, and the chipmunks spend the rest of the summer basking in the largesse, stopping to carefully strip the seeds and stuff their cheeks before racing off. The daylilies are unpacking something new each morning, the bumblebees are out in force and even occasional honeybees. It's high summer and after months of preparing all of nature is busy with growing and flourishing.

A contemplative monastery is a busy place too—if we are faithful, growing and flourishing just as fully as nature. To assist this process, our rule and practices also invite us to a persistent but gentle self-audit. What are we seeking? Why have we come?

At the moment we are busy with another kind of self-auditing: the culling and packing that is part of moving. The library is the biggest project to tackle and needs a great deal of discernment and care. So many books! Patterns can be picked out in the 'spirituality' books—so many simply address the same ideas in different idioms and voices. So many too, can be used as 'vicarious practice', without letting them challenge us to take up the harder work of the practice of our thoughts and our actions. Our practice takes time to take root; it can seem so slow and unsatisfying compared to reading a book! But if once we have the kernel, the practice, thoroughly integrated in our life, we can grow and flourish in new ways, that no book can do for us.

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