Friday, January 18, 2008

More on the possibility of a monastery .

To live in healthy community.
To live together, under one roof, with men (and women – why not?) who find and build “home”.
To establish a refuge in which all the nonsense and the madness of the world is rectified through frequent sharing, thinking and discipline.
To be bound to the pursuit of what is really valuable and lasting.
To support each other without binding each other.
To grow together.
To age together.
To love together.
To die not alone.

Is it so far-fetched?
Imagine coming home to the monastery from a day’s work (and I don’t see why those of us with gainful employment outside the walls might not keep it), knowing that there will be food and relaxation and discussion and laughter and commiseration and rest and safety and love.

The house would have a pervasive peacefulness about it even when the “monks” were engaged in spirited conversation and celebration.

There would be no need for robes. We are not talking about “mouseketeers” or Shriners. There might be ceremony and ritual and music and art and writing of all sorts. There would be some rules, but only those that facilitated the common good.

Monks could be coupled or single or polyamorous. Contemplative or chatty. Industrious or reflective.

Each couple or single or polyamorous unit would have his/her/their own room. There would have to be plenty of bathrooms. One giant kitchen. One giant dining room for communal meals. Several gathering rooms. Some kind of central hall that would handle the convening of the entire community. I hesitate to call it a chapel because I don’t want to exclude those who while wrestling with the concept of God are not inclined to common prayer, but I would not exclude that possibility. And oh let there be a beautiful garden.

And let there be frequent visitors for we are folks who love the good company of lively people.

Sounds irresistible, and, some would say, impractical, but think of the community that already exists through this mechanism that we already share. Would this not be the next step?

I need to think more about this.


LT Garcia said...

Where do I sign? My pursuit will be making good beer for all. I only ask that there be no patchouli of any sort with my olfactory range.

inhaclac... said...

A place to start re: the architectual planning:

But it's in the city, right? Have you ever been to St. Gervais in Paris--tout de Hôtel de Ville, près de la Marais? An amazing monastic community in the city with a wonderfully hybridized, heterogeneous, mongerlized, byzo-latin liturgy--with both monks and nuns. (Some really cute monks among them, too.)

Cooper said...

A monastery lives inside me. Once my sons are raised, sign me up. In the meantime, let us be joyous visitors. It sounds like what the word family should mean, but rarely does.

Mondschein said...

What you've described is quite similar to a concept a very good friend of mine has talked about for years, except he calls it "Crepe Haven."

Rob said...

Don't forget the communal baths lol :-P

somewhere joe said...

I visited a catholic monastary when I was a boy and connected immediately with its stone and sanctity, its gentle spirit and air of secrecy and transcendence, a world apart. In some ways, I had come home. I even thought about joining when I came of age, but other currents swept me elsewhere.

But my inner monk (a randy monk, I confess) was always present, and a monastic elan has gathered itself to me wherever, country house or city digs, or tropical retreat, I've lived.

I'd probably opt for the polyamourous wing of your monastary, brother... my first love, that I can in retrospectively identify as such, was for a pack not a person. And that, for me, is the imprint and eternal paradigm. Which isn't to say that there haven't been singular experiences within that dynamic, or departures from it, and delightful, heartbreaking, and singular affections. I've even played house a couple times. But the heterosexist one-on-one model (whose imperatives I do acknowledge and honor) has never been the gold standard for me, as much, at times, as I thought it should be. Sign me up. Can I wear a robe if I want?

Dagon said...

Have you read BF Skinner's "Walden Two"? It might interest you as you're thinking about how to organize something like a mini-society...

BigAssBelle said...

i have had this dream. in my vision, it's a big old craftsman four square with enormously tall windows on each floor. there's a wrap-around porch below and a balcony opening from the center hallway on the second floor. the house is surrounded by enormous ancient trees which provide a marvelous leafy shade for afternoons and evenings spent on the front porch.

there's a garden, certainly, and there's a meandering path and a stone patio with a high vine-covered arbor over it and we have long, leisurely suppers rich with conversation and laughter and love. and great food, of course.

in my dream, it's a respite from aging by oneself, and it's heavily populated by gay men. i really can't imagine anything finer than scampering off life's edge in the company of people who have also lived life a bit out of the main stream.

one of the things i fear about getting old is ending up in some sort of communal living situation (forced, i'd never go willingly to the kind of place i'm thinking about) where i would have to keep my life a secret. in particular, the fact of my rich and varied and rather extensive sexual life is one which does not place me within the mainstream of women. it's not that i want to be 90 years old and talking about fucking all the time (those were the days, dearie), but i would want to be able to reminisce, perhaps, without judgment.

i've not thought of a spiritual community, but your monastery appeals to me. it sounds like a haven, a respite from the world, but one which would be so full of love and joy and kindness and affection that it would be like putting on the best slippers and wrapping up in a quilt before the fire. absolute comfort. and safety.

count me in, please.

Rey D said...

I think I know where to find a gardener.

Aelred said...

Helloooo? Urban monks, queered? Um, I think we call such the Jesuits, no? And we love them.

Mark said...

my monk and i would enjoy this.

and he still has his robe and sandals.

Patrick said...

I've often fantasized about a similar structure, though I might tend more towards the Co-housing idea; lots of private homes, a large communal space as well, land owned in common (and yes, a garden would be key). Sign me up too.

evilganome said...

I must admit, the idea of the monastic life, occasionally beckons. But I have no faith and no vocation. Your monastery on the other hand sounds like a wonderful refuge from the daily battle.

I think the idea of the cloistered order appeals to me most, though like a Trappist, I would be happy to labor in the garden.

David said...

Sounds like an artist commune to me.