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.
Thanks for commenting on our blog Jim!
I’m curious how you got connected with a monastery in Arkansas from being A/G in California. It seems like an unlikely journey. Is there more about it on your blog somewhere? Was it a challenge to be a monk and keep your A/G papers?
Put me on your “Want to buy book” list! Speaking of healing…
I have a pentecostal believing friend with the gift of healing. He has a family member in a wheel chair. He has done all he knows to do to get his family member healed. What’s your take on that?
Hoping you have read enough of my stuff, to know I am not baiting you and have a sincere desire to understand.
Thanks for your reply. Yes, I do need to share how I went from California to a monastery in Arkansas. Basically, I had deep questions about Christian Spirituality after reading Richard Foster’s book CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE. I knew John Michael Talbot, the founder of the monastic community, because his brother Terry lived in the same town as I did and I was the wedding photographer at Terry’s wedding. I spoke with John about my questions and my understanding that God wanted me to remain single. John invited me to visit the Little Portion community. I did, got hooked, and moved there. I told the A/G after I arrived what I was doing. Yep, I asked forgiveness instead of permission. They looked into my situation, said they didn’t understand it, but I wasn’t doing anything wrong, either. Basically, they didn’t have a category for me so they left me alone! So, I maintained my credentials for the entire time I was a monk. All of this is in my book, which I hope to see published soon. However, your comment makes me think I need to blog more of my story about joining the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage. Thanks again for asking.
Amen to #2!!! By the way, you look way too cool in the photo with your Mom.
interesting story, I look forward to reading more about your experiences as a monk
I am so glad to have ran across your blog. A Monastic journey is an amazing one, I would like to hear more about it.
Stay tuned. I’ll continue to post various stories about my monastic journey.
Jim, now you have totally shattered my “cool” image of you! *grins* J/K. Isn’t it interesting the way the truth always has a way of coming out. Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences in the monastery.
I remember that visit and your big lip. The truth is great hugh. I did not have trouble breathing but was coughing alot and we thought it was the pine so i went to a motel. It was my smoking that caused it. Sure wish i could cough not lol. I had a great time at the little portion. I was a wonderful place.
Most of the time I am so dense that God has to take a two-by-four to my forehead to get my attention or to wake me from my slumber, but now I can feel grateful that He’s never given me a fat lip.
Pax Et Bonum!
Yeah. I guess I’m just special that way.