“Just as fish die if they stay too long out of water, so the monks who loiter outside their cells or pass their time with men of the world lose the intensity of inner peace. SO like a fish going towards the sea, we must hurry to reach our cell, for fear that if we delay outside we will lost our interior watchfulness.”
~~~ Anthony of the Desert
The wise old monk was telling his learners how to stay close to God. His answer was quite simple and direct. Stay in your (cell) cloister! A cloister is to a monk a place of seclusion where the monk can better communicate with God and control their temptations. In a strange way we have all been cloistered for the past few months, but have we come closer to God? I cannot answer that question for you, but I can give some suggestions about becoming closer to God.
First, an observation and a suggestion. Using Facebook and YouTube analysis I believe that most of our Sunday services have been viewed by over 100 people. For us that is quite amazing, since we have several people that are not a part of the social media world. In my communications with other pastors their observation has been the same. We all have a larger viewership than we expected. So, you can get closer to God through social media. There are family units who are doing modern day cloistering to watch worship times.
Second, we can and must set aside a personal time of prayer. It can be a place or a method, but we need to stay in touch with God.
Third, it is vital that we engage in sacred reading. This is, but not limited, to reading of scripture. Plan on reading portions of the Bible daily. Reading theological works and devotionals is sacred reading as well.
Fourth, writing or journaling your thoughts about God and what he is doing, or not doing, in your life. I would suggest that you write some prayers that are your heartfelt outpouring to God.
Fifth, just set aside some time of silence every day. This is a time when we are still and wait to hear from God. Warning, some days you may not hear much but keep going.
There is also another meaning to the word cloister, but it is a more modern one. A cloister is a covered walkway, usually in a Monastery or Cathedral, that leads from one building to another. I like to think of my time of prayer, silence or isolation as a time that leads me from one place to another. The cloister walk that I have committed myself to will lead me to know God better and to serve the world more willingly and joyfully.
May we all structure our cloister walk so that we may be ready to be the salt and light of the world.
My Cell where I find time for God
LORD, the world seems so overwhelming that it scares me. I know that when I am frightened I can come to you and you will be there. You are always willing to give me comfort in the darkest of times. Help me to remember that you are always there for me, but I must take the time to develop a way of getting closer to you. Help me this day to commit to being in the cloister walk with you and the world you send my way.