This year, three exceptional young people 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. Here is what Sarah Brock had to say:
“Lord, it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in your presence. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done. What has not been done has not been done. Help us let it be.” So begins one of the prayers we often lift up at the office of Compline. Upon hearing it prayed aloud during my first week as an intern, I was drawn in by the poetry of the words and particularly by this desire to let go of the work of the day and be still. It has been true for most of my life that there is no end to the work that needs to be done. Every time I cross an item off of my to-do list, it seems I also add at least five more. Before coming here, I was immersed in the endless cycles of homework assignments, projects, papers, and exams (all accompanied by a continuous stream of caffeine to sustain me through late nights of study) that composed my life in seminary. I expected to find a new way of life in the Monastery – one of stillness and peace without stress. However, even living in a monastery, there is always work that needs to be done. Even living in a monastery, it is hard to stop work five times a day to pray and be still in the presence of God. Nonetheless, I did find a new way of life, just not in the way I expected.
Daily life in the Monastery, though filled with work and sometimes stress, is structured around the rhythm of the Office. Throughout each day, we all set aside our other work to be still in the presence of God. Often it is hard to calm the busyness of my mind, yet the pattern of chant, Scripture, and prayer frequently provides me with a sense of peace. This practice of setting aside my burdens and stress to rest in God is something I hope to take with me when I leave. Granted, it is unlikely I will find myself in a place where it is possible to observe the Offices all through the day, but I hope to continue to observe one or two regularly. More importantly, I have learned the importance of finding space each day to rest in God, even if for only a moment, and to accept my own limitations. For, as the prayer concludes, “The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.”