A Deeper Monasticism is Bitter Sweet
Monasticism is a big word, especially for the likes of this simple country boy. I first learned of it in a formal way through a book I read by Shane Claiborne called “Irresistible Revelation”. Although I still did not fully understand the book, it rang a bell somewhere deep inside my soul. My eyes were opened to the world around me in many different ways. I was living in an old garage/barn at the time and still trying to find a way to have a personal relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. I was working in a volunteer position at the recently formed Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, North Carolina, attending school and every workshop that I could find, yet the longing in my soul was still there. The new people in my life treated me like we grew up together, like family, and I was looking for a way to serve.
During my work at Haywood Street I met several, very influential people, who helped me lay down the burdens of my past and move forward with my new life, one that I never imagined in a hundred years, a life of service to “The Church”. One of these friends was a local nurse, now a true mentor and Pastor of her own congregation on the outskirts of Asheville. We spend time together usually on Thursday, talking about me and my week mostly, but I see it as a navigational nudge so to speak, to keep me on course.
In early 2013, she along with others started to develop a program that would become a cornerstone of the now thriving Haywood Street Congregation. The Program would later be call The Haywood Street Respite, and it opened its doors the first week of January 2014. This entire program of offering people a safe place to heal was really, at least to me, a very real Monastic Environment, full of Gospel and Good News. Before we opened however, I was given the opportunity to leave my apartment in West Asheville, and move into this new space as a resident, with a focus on relationships and ministry. It would be a turning point in my life.
This beautiful place would become my home, in all the ways you would expect it to be, except I did not have to leave and go to work and come home, as work and home was the same. Now over 3 years later, I had to say goodbye to that space in Room 2. Yes Room 2, where Staff Meetings, Ball Games, Consultations, Bible Studies, and much more would take place on a Weekly and sometimes Daily basis. It was a time I will take with me till my time on earth is through.
In February 2016, while on a trip to Her Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in New Haven, Kentucky, I was called by the Holy Spirit to leave Room 2 in The Haywood Street Respite and move into a new space in Room 5, in the main church. This put me in an even more amazing space, gave me more room and allowed me to reflect in an even deeper monastic way. This move was supported completely by the entire family here, and I have much to be thankful for. It is a great space, in fact some have said one of the best apartments in Asheville with the mountain crest visible through my windows. The Sunsets and the Sunrises are breath taking to say the least. But,it is bittersweet. I miss those days in Room 2, because the time there re-invented me in so many ways, and taught me the meaning of love, and the adjudication of the teachings of the Carpenter’s Son, whom we all love.
Peace of Christ,
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