I hear the Lord — yes, dangerous to assume the small voice in my mind is His and not mine — say, “Get up. Go to Mepkin.”
I glance at my clock — it’s 4 a.m. Lauds starts in 1 1/2 hours; the drive is about 1 hr. I can make it if I get up now!
“But, Lord.” I say weakly. “My hair’s dirty. I could wear a hat, but the only ones I’ve got are baseball caps and who knows what the monks will think about that! And, yes I’ve got time to take a quick shower, but…”
Then, I remember the newfangled metal automatic gate at the entrance to the abbey. Ah, I think, gotcha now.
“But, Lord.” I say with a bit more confidence. “The gate! What if the gate is shut? Gas is so expensive. What a waste if I can’t get in.”
And here’s the real fear — right here. “But, Lord.” I say this emphatically. “What if the monks disapprove? What if one or two or all glance my way and think, oh no, she’s back?”
A little background is called for. I used to travel to Mepkin Abbey almost every weekend. On Friday night, I’d ask the Lord to wake me if He wanted me to go. Usually I woke up about 4:20 a.m. just enough time to throw on clothes and get in the car. I’d drive the 45 minutes to 1 hour, go through the old wooden — yes, open — gate, park beside the Clare Boothe Luce library, walk to the sanctuary, quietly enter, sit in the visitors’ section in the semi-dark and wait for one of the monks to acknowledge me and perhaps offer me a place in the — I don’t know what it is called — on either side of the church and facing each other are two lines of wooden chairs, each with a wooden bench that can be folded up so as to lie flesh with the wall so you are able to stand against the wall. Then the bench can be folded back down for sitting. Hopefully, you can imagine this, or have seen it yourself. At any rate, I was always acknowledged and if the guests — the retreatants — were already seated and a place remained for me, I was allowed to join the liturgy.
Now, my fear of being looked at with disapproval is not of God and comes not from the monks of Mepkin but from myself and perhaps from some ‘force of evil.’
I say this because Mepkin has brought to my life nothing but joy in the Lord. I never regret going; I definitely regret the last thing I said to God this morning.
I heard Him say, “You want to get up. You’re wasting your life.”
And I said, “But dreaming is my life, too.”