In September 2012 to June 2013, three exceptional young men took part in the Monastic Internship Program, living, worshipping, and working alongside the community for nine months. We asked them to reflect on what they would take away from the experience.
The monastic daily schedule is the antithesis of undergraduate college living. Like most people after college, I graduated still in the midst of self-discovery, trying to figure out how to be the best version of myself. This internship was an opportunity to work on pieces of me that were just impossible to work on in the college setting. I knew that, as an extrovert, I wasn’t going to be able to take time to be silent and to live a disciplined, structured life without this experience.
I feel like I’ve learned a lot from just the act of being physically present five times a day for worship. Just having that discipline to show up if I’m not feeling well; if I don’t want to be there; if I do want to be there; if I have other things to do, there’s a lot to be learned in just showing up. That’s so simple, yet I think what the monastic life offers is such simple and profoundly deep practices of life.
I have actually gotten into the rhythm of waking up with the sun and going to bed a little bit after the sun. That seemed like such an impossibility to me coming here: to be able to awake at 5:30 and begin the day! I had never done that, never imagined I could. It goes back to discipline: My natural inclinations are not to stick to a disciplined life. After being able to live in this space for nine months, to experience this structure and discipline, I feel more equipped to go out on my own and put my own practices into place.