Monday, January 7, 2008

Seeking Silence

On New Year's Eve (during the day and early evening), I watched a DVD of the movie Into Great Silence.

It is an unusual film, as it has very little dialogue, no narration, and no "mood music." A German filmmaker spent about six months living in the Carthusian monastery La Grande Chartreuse (The Great Charterhouse) in the French Alps. With no film crew or artificial lighting, he filmed the monks praying, meditating, working, eating, chanting, and generally living their lives.

Rather than writing about it myself, I'll refer you to a good review by Steven Greydanus, a Catholic reviewer, whose site, Decent Films Guide, I visit fairly frequently. In fact, I should put a link in the margin to it.

I find books and movies about monastic life interesting. I probably have a romanticized idea about that way of life, but I have benefitted from insights about integrating faith and everyday life particularly from reading about Benedictine spirituality. The Benedictines take a vow of stability, to stay in one place and with one community for the rest of your life. The idea is that you don't find enlightenment or work through your issues by going somewhere else to find it there, but by persevering where you are -- changing places won't change you. It's that saying, "Wherever you go, there you are." (I'm in Lynden, and here I am.)

Two books that have taught me well are The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris, and Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict, by Esther de Waal.

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