Leading Like a Monk: Stopping to Check Our Directions

Stopping to Check Our Directions Each year, in August, I stop to check my directions. I spend a few days in silent reflection at New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur. This is the first year in the last several I will not be visiting New Camaldoli. Storms over the winter blocked access to New Camaldoli from both the north and the south. While one road did open earlier this month, I am not sure it is the road for a car like... Read more

Practices From the Inside Out: Living in the Shadow of Fear

Living in the Shadow of Fear It has been a challenging week to be fearless. A few years ago I decided to give up fear. I belong to a church which divides each year into liturgical seasons, including Lent. One year I decided I would give up fear for Lent that year. Giving up fear is not about never being afraid of anything. There are some things which are healthy for us to fear. For me, giving up fear has been more... Read more

Leading Like a Monk: How Monastic History Works

Understanding How History Works We like to live as if our history does not matter. Every morning is a new beginning. Independent and free, we can do whatever we please. Paying attention to the present, we stretch out toward the future. We want to live as though we can leave the past behind. It would take us too much time and effort to remember and understand the past. We think history is full of people who would not really understand us today. Why do... Read more

Practices From the Inside Out: Listening for the Sacred

Listening for the Sacred Are there sounds which are sacred to you? What does spiritual life sound like in your ears? How do you listen for the Sacred? We live in a world surrounded by sounds. For me, those sounds are more likely to be traffic or people talking than a gentle breeze. We rarely take time to get away from the sounds all around us and listen for the Sacred. When we want to escape the sounds of everyday life... Read more

Practices From the Inside Out: The Benefit of the Doubt

The Benefit of the Doubt We can neither know nor remember everything. Events take place which very different significance depending on a person’s perspective. People have a long history of giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Someone is late and says there was an accident on the freeway. We cannot know where there really was an accident, and we give them the benefit of the doubt. Where there is doubt we give people room to maneuver. We recognize... Read more

Leading Like a Monk: Following Monastic Examples

Inspiring Examples to Follow Some people believe we learn how to become leaders by studying leadership. They read books and take classes, thinking and talking about being strong leaders. Leadership is more than thinking, talking, and studying. The leaders who inspire me often do not talk much about leadership. They probably do not read, or write, leadership books or even attend conferences. I am inspired to become a better leader because of the examples they set. The leaders who give me examples... Read more

Practices From the Inside Out: Finding Our Places of Stillness

Finding Our Places of Stillness Our minds are always full. Full of responsibilities, full of work, full of family, friends, and other people. We struggle to keep up with everything. There is what we need to know, what we want to know, and what we just know. We know words to songs we have not heard for years and names of people we have never met. There is only so much we can take. We try to put things in their places... Read more

Practices From the Inside Out: What Color is Spiritual Life?

What Color is Spiritual Life? I was born and raised in a world where spiritual life was black and white. Spiritual life was about what we believed and how we lived our lives. The things we were convinced were right to believe and to do were written down. The boundaries and standards were clear and we knew it was wrong to step over the line. We believed what we read and how we understood what we read. It was clear to us... Read more

Leading Like a Monk: Walking and Paying Attention

Walking and Paying Attention The community practices silence at the hermitage where I am a lay oblate. People may talk in the bookstore, which facilitates commerce, or walking on the driveway. People who are on retreat request an appointment, in the bookstore, to talk with a monk. Together, they walk the two miles down to the Pacific Coast Highway, and back. The walk is beautiful, back and forth across the side of the hill. The views of the coast and the... Read more

Practices From the Inside Out: Reflecting Theologically

Reflecting Theologically My nature is not to be the most reflective person around. I have learned to reflect by spending time reflecting and finding its benefits. At the same time, I do not tend to be a formal theologian. Theology is the study of the nature of God. I have never taken a theology class or systematically studied theology. My theological background comes more from my experience than academic work. My deeper appreciation of spiritual life in recent years is more... Read more