The Manna House of Prayer, home of the Sisters of St. Joseph, was my home the last four days. The convent is a 99 year old building located in Concordia, Kansas. If you are wondering why I am here—I’m teaching a seminar on preaching. If you are wondering why the person who organized this event decided it should be held at a convent—I have no idea. Although it is a cool place. If you have ever wondered what life in a convent is like: here you go.
I have the corner room on the second of three floors. One of the sisters took me there when I arrived on Monday. I wasn’t given a key because the room has no lock. My new laptop and a few other possessions remain in the room when I’m downstairs talking about things like logos, pathos, and ethos. I sleep with the door open so some air can circulate through the non-air conditioned quarters.
Trust is a little different than belief. Belief says, “Nobody will steal my computer” or “Nobody will play a prank on me when I am sleeping.” (The latter of the two propositions seems like a pretty safe bet in a convent.) Trust is being willing to implement your beliefs. Trust is necessary for abundance and fullness in life. Trusting in others. Trusting in God. Intimacy with others and with God only comes through trust. The sisters have it figured out.
I have no television. My cell phone doesn’t work unless I go outside and stand in the right place at the right time. Most of the food is an early crop from this year’s garden. Rhubarb, radishes, asparagus, kale, and mulberries appear on the table three times a day. Nothing about this place even hints as luxury. Which is just as well. Simplicity is about eliminating the unnecessary and adding the meaningful.
I haven’t missed electronics. I go to sleep early and wake up early. I have ample time to pray and read the Bible. I have gone running every morning. I think I should call it jogging I guess. I have had some good conversations. Economist E.F. Schumacher when he wrote: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” My life won’t be simple when I return to Omaha, but the life at the convent has taught me it needs to be more simple.
The convent has ample space and time for solitude. This solitude allows the individuals to function better as a community. The sisters embrace and live out the following truth: We can become more together than we can become separately as individuals. They are present with and for each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” -Proverbs 17:17
The best is yet to come…