A monastic experience can take place anytime, anywhere. A monastic life takes
perseverence, faith, and intention. Here’s a story.

A Monastic Experience

Most people who know me are unaware of a monastic experience I had a few years back. I lived with the Sisters at the Community of Saint John Baptist (CSJB) in Mendham, NJ (www.csjb.org) for almost three years. The reason? I am a searcher, a seeker (as my mom reminded me in a letter read at her funeral: “Jeannie, always seeking…” she said), and I wanted to delve deeper into my spiritual life.

There, I had the gift of “companioning” with the CSJB community: praying, meditating, eating meals in silence, working, living a life in communion and simplicity, in family and learning. I was a companion on my way to deeper self-awareness and understanding God, as I know this energy to be, life, and being more deeply present for others with whom contact is made. With the Sisters today, I am a struggling Oblate and active Associate, and minister Yoga at the Retreat House, St. Marguerite’s: http://www.csjb.org/st-marguerites-retreat-house.html . In the world, I minister to groups and individuals through retreats and workshops, spiritual direction (regardless of belief), Yoga, meditation, and lifestyle coaching. What I do is who I am and monasticism is part of that, practicing, striving to live the Oblate Rule of Life outside the convent.

The Sisters at CSJB offer an Alongsider” program for seekers and searchers that is similar to “Companioning.” Recently an Anglican Community in Canada successfully completed their program with Companions. You can read their story here if so inclined: http://www.anglican.ca/news/living-life-sisters-companions-reflect-monastic-experience/30019803/

The purpose of this article is not about me, but to enlighten you to know that having a monastic experience or living a monastic life is possible and attainable, regardless of religious beliefs. You can be in the world or at a spiritual place like CSJB. Growth is in the experience, and that growth blesses and reaches to the ends of the universe and to all with whom you come in contact. Whatever your life circumstance, you can reach out to Sr. Eleanor Francis at sref@csjb.org to learn more.

In peace and with love,
Jean Marie