At 2:30am on May 10th, 2001 at the age of 52 I climbed into a little rented Penske truck and left my monastery of 23 years! The decision to leave was a difficult one in that I had entered that monastery intending to be there until my death. As the years rolled along however, I and my heart’s desires evolved as well. In 1989 I became involved in the professional art world, something which to me as a teenager would have been inconceivable. In 1996 I was ordained to the Priesthood thereby becoming a Hieromonk, or Priestmonk. And as the years marched toward that May morning in 2001 I found my heart whispering about serving the church back out in the world. What terrified me about this was that it would mean leaving the safety of the monastery!
But life is like that; it evolves and changes and becomes what it had not been. Further down the road we can find ourselves doing things and being someone who never occurred to us when we were younger. That is why it is crucial that we become more knowledgeable about our inner life, our feelings, the secret desires of our heart, because those feelings and thoughts will eventually give birth to our doing. I have discovered the following Hawaiian saying: “O ka makapo wale no ka mea hapapa I ka pouli” Its translation is: “Only the blind gropes in the darkness.” The explanation for it is: “If you have no direction in life, you’ll get nowhere, and if you’re going nowhere, you’re guaranteed to get there.”
So our inner life is a balancing of letting life unfold even while having a basic direction for one’s life. So what was the direction I chose to go in upon leaving the monastery? Well, there are various individual elements that constitute that direction I suppose. Since I had lived a communal monastic life my whole adult life I now wanted to live by myself. And, except for Saturdays and Sundays when my parishioners are around, I do. Believe it or not I also wanted to have to pay my own bills, to deal with my own money, to deal with everything that everyone else has to, which life in my monastery previously did for me.
And why did I want these things? Because I felt then (and after 10 years of being on my own still do) that it is in dealing with the minutiae of each day’s demands that one is forced to grow on an experiential level. So over the course of these past 10 years, Have I? Yes, definitely. My advice to people and counseling of them now tends to be more practical and less cerebral. Even my artwork has evolved, although trying to do some of the larger pieces in a 10′ by 14′ kitchen makes me ache for my lovely 30′ by 30′ studio back in the monastery!
And the biggest surprise of these past 10 years has been Hawaiʻi. That first trip with my family I really didn’t want to go. The moment I stepped out into the Hawaiian night air heading towards the baggage area at the Honolulu airport I was mugged by beauty! The scent of flowers, the wonderful, gentle trade winds blowing, the perfect temperature! Hawaiʻi was definitely not something I could see in my future as I climbed into a Penske truck that early morning! But what a gift to me that God has let my life evolve in this direction in the hope of moving to the Big Island in June of 2019. And after that? Who knows?! But I can’t WAIT!!!