Since leaving the monastery, I see a different man in the mirror. He’s a man that has been transformed at a depth of soul that fear’s afraid to visit, so love resides instead.
Now, I live in Fargo, North Dakota. I have been here for one week.
At the monastery, there was little in the way of stimulation to take away from the present moment. I rarely saw my reflection. Instead, it was the brothers who told me what they saw in me. Their reaction to my presence was a gauge of who I was, even in silence…especially in silence.
I’ve spent the last week in the throes of a new apprenticeship with a creative agency called Misfit, Inc. Since showing up (and saying yes), I have played the role of barista, social media strategist, conference crewman, and errand-runner extraordinaire.
In the high desert of New Mexico, I slept little, but was rarely tired. The energy of the red mesa was a life source, and the constant request for mercy in the form of breathing prayers was what rooted my wandering feet into desert sand. It’s astonishing how much has changed since my last walk in Cañones.
This week, I’ve met a marshmallow maker who gives people their love’s worth rather than their money’s worth; a web developer who is a father and a husband; an Aussie photographer who unites families by showing them themselves in a new light; minimalist writers; a painter who illustrates the feeling in a room; a grown child soldier from Sudan who has been refined by suffering and now walks in truth; a black, disabled, bisexual, Buddhist, spoken-word poet who causes crowds to stand; and a team of incredible human beings who work around the clock to do work that matters. All of these people are Misfits, and I am now one of them.
My monk brothers and I often talked about the West’s obsession with a person’s output rather than their personhood. We found that basking in the glorious source of our being was much more life-giving than chasing the elusive delusion of a self-made identity.
I didn’t go to bed until five in the morning today. My new misfit friends and I were celebrating the end of Misfit Con 2014; “a deliberately small event handcrafted to help you walk out and make a dent in the universe.” Joe, Muff, and I walked the streets of Fargo at dawn, listening to the birds wake up in the trees before passing out on our beds.
For Easter (Pascha) this year, the monks held a midnight service that ended at four in the morning. After the service we broke the Lenten fast and feasted on rich foods and drank craft beers. We sang songs and banged on pots and pans in the kitchen with wooden spoons and spatulas. We didn’t need to sleep because our shared joy was our energy. Christ is risen!
This face looking back at me from the mirror is a different one than I’ve ever known before. His soul has remained in the desert while his body has returned to the noisy world. His eyes are tired from lack of sleep, but they glisten and glow with sensitivity and hope. He has dimples in his cheeks because he smiles more at everything from birds in trees to pedestrians crossing streets to flowers pushing up through soil. He has a mouth that is slow to speak and ears quick to listen. He’s found sanity in humility, and every opportunity to serve purifies his soul. He is more than reborn, renewed, reset, detoxified, and alive, he has found a new mode of existence that is founded in love for the other.
Presently, I am grateful and full.
Peace and good from Fargo,
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