Thursday, October 30, 2008

Taking the Monastery Into the World

I've been catching snippets of the wonderful documentary, Into Great Silence, which chronicles the daily life inside a Carthusian monastery, the Grand Chartreuse. The dramatic backdrop of the French Alps is a stunning canvas for the artistry of the monks' beautifully simple devotional life. The ordinary becomes sacred as each monk lives out his day in silence and obedience to God.

I had already planned on buying the two-disc film. I'm looking forward to finally owning the complete version. My expectations of what this documentary would show, were met and exceeded, leaving me completely humbled and captivated at the same time. What I've taken from it is the great importance of living in the moment and being grateful to God for that moment. So many times, we live life at breakneck speed, always thinking of "the next." We live in the future so much that we don't fully appreciate the present. We often don't take enough time to sit and reflect, or kneel and pray.

I think this is why I loved "The Simple Woman's Daybook idea. It gave women an opportunity to just sit and reflect on their day and upcoming week. Found in those reflections were surprising pockets of joy as a woman realized how deeply she was blessed. It does take time and silence to appreciate what is most precious. After watching this film, it becomes clear why Jesus spent so much time seeking solace and prayer.

I realized I can take some of the monastic experience into the world. I don't have to be so rushed. If I do things with deliberate awareness, I can capture some of the thoughtful intent that defines monastic life. Just being aware of my breathing, or how my hand holds a steering wheel, or leaning back into my chair can all be sacred moments if I take those opportunities to connect with God and give thanks.

Peace and serenity can be had outside the monastery walls. We just have to give a little more thought to it...


Cathy_of_Alex said...


Isn't that a great film?

X said...

It's not really a documentary or a film - it's a retreat, an experience, it's almost otherworldly.

(and as gorgeous as it is - I could never be a contemplative!!!)

Dymphna said...

I loved the movie. One thing that struck me was how happy the monks are. The big smile on the face of one of them with his French bread and lentil soup. The joyousness of the young monks sledding and the beautiful face of the gardner monk have stayed with me.

joannaB73 said...

I haven't managed it yet but this is one film I want to watch.

Mary Rose said...

Yes, it is a great film! I agree with all the comments. I also loved how the monks took great joy in the simple things in life. Because they live with so little, the little things take on greater meaning. I think it may be a revelation to some who think that monks must lead a boring and unhappy life.

I'm going to see if a local Catholic bookstore has it tomorrow. I felt spiritually renewed after watching it. :-)