I’m not Catholic, but I’m fascinated by Catholic religious orders – brotherhoods and sisterhoods of people who dedicate their lives to serving a calling from God. Maybe it reminds me of what it feels like to work in a early-stage company. You’ve got to be a monk to get things done sometimes.
Like companies, these orders all have a central specialty and unifying vision for spiritual life. The brothers and sisters in this order spend their years working to realize those visions.
Need a place to retreat from the world? Go to the Benedictines.
Need to simplify your life? Go to the Franciscans.
Need to learn? Go to the Jesuits.
Monastic orders have traditionally served these edifying functions within most of the European world and much of the rest of the world as well. But I see one gaping hole in their coverage area.
Who is the monastic order of the partygoer and the adventurer?
So that you don’t think I’m joking, answer me this: when do you love Ultimate Reality/Truth/God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength more than when you’re dancing to 80s music on a crowded floor? Hell, the Biblical King David would know what I mean. He was known to dance a little too much. Even Jesus was widely known and criticized as a partygoer – let’s not forget the first miracle of turning water into wine. He performed much of his ministry through dinner parties and wedding feasts and some pretty funny adventures with his 12 bros/disciples:
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”.
If the experience of full presence and full bodily and emotional expression isn’t a spiritual one, I don’t know what is. And we most often come to this experience when we go into the unknown with a spirit of hope or come back to the known with a spirit of fun. In other words, partying and adventuring.
We experience God when we’re dancing, when we’re running flat out, when we’re kayaking down a whitewater river, when we’re at a rocking concert, when we’re drinking wine with friends, and when we’re rolling down a grassy hill at a park, when we’re acting like fools but harming no one. We experience God when we step outside of our comfort zones to gain those things, when we meet new lands and new people, when we take flight for the first time, and when we see parts of our own home towns we’ve never seen before.
Yes, it’s true that other religious orders can (despite outward appearances) have fun. But who out there is dedicating their lives to creating these experiences for people?
What if there was a traveling brotherhood and sisterhood of the party and the adventure? What if there was an order of monks traveling over the land hosting parties and planning adventures for people with boring lives – or for people who are too dulled to the beauty and adventure around them? What if there were people whose sole job was to push you to try new things, introduce you to new people, and call you to a fuller kind of life?
I would be sorely tempted to join.
Whether or not I get my wish for a brotherhood of awesome, fun-loving monks, I do consider it a part of my personal calling to create adventure for people. The goal is to to change peoples’ perspective on the universe – to break people out of their everyday routines and into a state of existence that is fully aware. It’s a sweaty, panting, joking, standing-up-straight, eyes-wide-open, awe-inspiring, heart-on-sleeve, rolling-on-the-floor-laughing kind of life.
Whether or not you describe your experience with religious terms or not, you know what I speak of, and you know it’s worth having.