Monastic Guest – Cody Dowds

Monastic Guest - Cody DowdsMepkin Abbey’s charm lies in its very ordinariness. However contradictory it may seem, normality is distinct here. Outside monastery grounds, suburban life looks unduly complicated. The puzzle of monastic seclusion and silence comes together nicely when you just experience it. Inner space (as opposed to outer space) comes to the forefront, and that is where God can raise us to the plane of faith. One afternoon, as I left daily work at the mushroom houses, I decided to explore a tattered hermitage. Tanner, one of the monastery’s employees, suggested it would be an interesting place to visit. In a stack of books, there was a thin pamphlet labeled “Divine Light Spiritual Childhood.” It seems to be a selection from a larger book entitled Manual for Interior Souls. It describes the state of spiritual childhood in this way: “The soul, thus reasoning no longer, reflecting no longer, occupies herself no more with the past or the future, but only with the present…”. This is just one way of expressing what is termed the “contemplative experience,” which means God loving me and me loving God. This monastery is rich with people who love God and have gone to great lengths to allow that love to grow. Perhaps that is what makes it appear enigmatic to the outside world. Inside the monastery, everything is as usual and as it ought to be.

Sunlight on Cooper River
After a long time,
you come to the river alone.
At sunrise or sunset,

you have irrevocably come
to yield to the causes.
There are the purple grasses

leading to the water. Sunlight,
like white rice, floats
in isolated rafts of light.