The following is a humorous story about my reaction to taking a three year vow of poverty, chastity and obedience with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage in Eureka Springs, AR. It is taken from my book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes, which I hope to see published soon.
When you consider yourself a “cool” Southern California kid, you think you can handle anything that comes your way. Move to Arkansas and join a monastery? No problem. Become the world’s only Assemblies of God monk and take on the largest Pentecostal denomination in the U.S.? Piece of cake. Joyfully anticipate taking a three-year vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, and even invite your mom to fly out from California to witness the experience? Right up my alley.
Until I noticed a little bump on my upper lip.
At first, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something. Even though it was January, my mom was having some trouble breathing and we thought it might be a reaction to all the cedar trees. Yeah, that’s it. The bump on my lip is due to allergies. I took some Benadryl, said a little prayer and tried to ignore it.
Me and my mom
But the bump grew larger, and eventually I looked like I got in a fight and came out on the losing end of a right hook. It didn’t go away until I arrived in California a few days later for a vacation. (The community let us go on a vacation two weeks a year to visit family and friends. I considered it time off for good behavior.).
Back to the fat lip. Dr. Mom diagnosed it right off, but I was too cool to admit the truth she already knew: I was nervous about taking the vows. If anybody asked, I told them I was “fine” about taking the vows. But I was denying the fact that I was nervous about the unknown, and the truth has a way of showing itself in ways that we least expect. My spirit knew the truth and my body expressed it. My pride, and my lip, was swollen and when I finally admitted to myself (and my mom) that I was nervous about taking a three-year vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, the fat lip went away.
From this experience, I offer two “take aways” for those of you who need them.
1. Obviously, I wasn’t as cool as I thought I was, but you already figured that out.
2. When you lie to yourself about how you truly feel, neither drugs, prayer nor rebuking the devil will cure what ails you.