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Why a Monk 2: On Being Giddy

The word monk, coined in the 4th C. to describe the hermits who would go off alone into the desert to pursue spiritual life, signifies one who lived alone. It included those who “left the world”—whether they chose to live in solitude or in community.

Monk has resonated with me for some decades, as spiritual life deepened, identity and call clarified, and writing became a focus. As my spiritual vision matured, I became more single-mindedly devoted to Christ. Hungering and thirsting, the only introvert in a large, boisterous Irish family, I found relief in withdrawing from it to sit at his feet and listen. At least until dinner time.

The word resonates with me too as a single. I certainly went through the ups and downs of wanting a husband over the years. But ultimately I could never give up the freedom of single-minded devotion to Christ. Family seemed too big a distraction. What I felt instinctively early in life proved to be true, and validated by 1 Corinthians 7. While I didn’t make a conscious choice to remain single, that has been my lifelong status, and I’ve mostly enjoyed living it. No complaints.

Married or single, “Ultimately, we are all single in relation to Christ.” C.S. Lewis? Can’t be sure but it sounds like him. A truth to which each single bears witness.

“We are solitary. We may delude ourselves and act as though this were not so. That is all. But how much better it is to realize that we are so, yes, even to begin by assuming it. Naturally, we will turn giddy.”—Rilke

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