Monasteries Attracting Neighbors
People are moving. There is a growing dissatisfaction with life-in-the-desert-that-is-the-American-city, and it seems that more than a few families are seeking a life that is more rich and deep and free. Near monasteries.
Clear Creek, Oklahoma is one such location. There, a young vibrant community of Benedictines is building a monastery like the great ones of Europe and attracting a large number of Catholic neighbors in the process. Catholic families are coming to from across the country to drink deep from the well of Living Water that flows from the holy silence of this place. These families are deeply hungry for the community that springs from a life of shared faith, as well as the salubrious life to be found in the country.
Another such location appears to be Starfied, Missouri. It is too tiny to be more than a blip on the map, yet families from around the country are moving to live near the very nascent convent of the Benedictine sisters there. Devin and I recently learned this news first hand. We thought we would be very bold and share with the Mother Superior our dream of living near a convent. Afraid she would think we were crazy, but trusting the Holy Spirit, we wrote a letter in June and awaited a reply. And, such a reply came last week with these words, “There are other families who have made the same inquiry, and though we are in a very early stage (we’re not even there yet ourselves!) a couple of these families have already moved to the area.”
We were stunned. Because, we have been sitting in our little house in Austin dreaming big dreams and thinking that we must be alone among our fellow Catholics in having this vision. And, suddenly, we caught a glimpse of the movement of the Holy Spirit, working silently among men to move their hearts in concert even unbeknownst to them. We were stunned and excited.
Cautions to Ourselves
With that said, I want to offer two cautions. First, any desire to leave one bad place for a wonderful new place is usually unrealistic; Devin and I know that, if we choose to move our family, it cannot be because we are fleeing city life to go build a utopian society somewhere in the country; because, such a society would cease to exist as soon as we arrived. Second, if we do move to a country neighborhood populated with Catholic families, we would need to guard against insular-ity and self-satisfaction. The last thing our dying culture needs is for the Christians to move into little communes where they cut themselves off in order to live a pure life.
Our faith is inherently missionary, and we want to be part of offering the Gospel in the midst of society. But, we increasingly wonder if we cannot root our family in a community of vibrantly faith-filled families from which we run forth to share the Good News. Time will tell. As God so wills.