Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Day in the Life of an Occasional Hermit

I am living a solitary life for a month up here in the mountain of Busay and I am enjoying it. There is never a dull moment. I pray/meditate four times a day (early morning, noon-time, early evening, late night). I do some physical exercises (tai-chi, running or biking or walking, weight training). From mid-morning to noon-time, I do some writing - making final revision on my book project on ecclesiology (A Vision of a Renewed Church) and writing the draft of "Forming Basic Ecclesial Communities." In the afternoon I catch up on my readings. I only eat once a day (supper which I prepare myself). Evenings are spent in music (singing to myself or playing the violin or flute). These are the things I really want to do.
I live alone yet I do not feel lonely or bored. The times I spend in prayer and meditation makes me aware that I am not really alone - there is Someone present who keeps me company and who is the source of my energy and dynamism. All that I do put me in a state of flow - time passes so quickly.

I know that I cannot live my entire life this way. Being a hermit is only part of the rhythm of my life. I have to go back to my community and my ministry. But this period of solitude, contemplation and rest is what keeps me going.

Over thirty years ago, before I made my final vows as a Redemptorist, I was going through a period of discernment. I felt an attraction to the contemplative vocation after reading the works of Thomas Merton. I was seriously thinking of joining the Trappists. At the same time, I was also attracted to the life of an activist fighting for freedom and justice. I was able to come up with a compromise - continue being a Redemptorist and be both an activist and a contemplative. This means integrating the active and contemplative dimension of my life - daily and periodically. Being an occasional hermit on this mountain is part of this compromise.

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