Gone Monastic

Life becomes insanely simple with no words. Its like living life in a big tunnel. Without communication of any kind, there are only colors, smiles, tastes and sounds around us. Josh and I were just having a little pillow talk last night, reflecting on how much we’ve changed already for the better. Life here is kind of a half-life and larger than life at the same time. The sub-existenent feeling comes from living in a world where you don’t know what the street signs say, where going out to eat consists of pointing at indiscernible lines on the menu and then having Pandora’s box for dinner, where communicating with the repairman or a parent means nodding at each other until everybody figures out what’s going on.

We catch ourselves talking to each other in deliberate, simplified sentences free of pronouns, conjunctions or what have you almost every day of the week on the walk home from work as we’ve spent the day talking to kids, or worse, adults– who can’t really understand what we’re saying at all.

Then, we come home and eat simple, blander foods to settle our stomachs from the burning kimchi, raw fish heads and other strange, more in-touch-with-nature-oriented concoctions we’ve experienced from the Korean meals we have shared at work. We sit on our floor pillows at our new floor table (people here rarely sit at the normal, Western-style “table and chair”) and eat eggs and rice, or ramen, and maybe even a little Korean style soft drink (another topic for another day, they are quite cool) and then, we take a deep breath.

We don’t have TV in English, either, so we relax by reading or else we find ways to hack our favorites shows off the internet (using what are most likely illegal sites…oh well). We often walk up and down the streets near our house after that, and watch these people who we don’t know what they’re saying as they further credit the reputation of the Korean nightlife.

Then, at one or two in the morning, we lie on our floor mat, stare at the ceiling, and talk about the kids or our life here. During these moments we often marvel, like we did last night, at the delightful simplicity of our lives. It’s spiritually empowering, because we literally have no distractions from our work, our walk with God and each other.

Don’t get me wrong, living life with such limited shared understandings with other human beings is enough to drive us crazy some days. Even waving a taxi over requires an upside-down kind of gesture with the hands. But this maddening sense of frustration from culture shock only drives us more deeply into the Scriptures and the lifestyle of worship as we pray, serve, and love together.

I think about what I studied in Christian Spirituality, one of my classes in university–how many monks and saints of the Early Church chose to live a simple life challenged by selfless service. Many days, I can identify with them as I lie on the floor staring at the ceiling, talking to God with my husband. The simple furnishings in our apartment, the time spent in nature, the strange flavors of our food all make me uncomfortable enough that I’m pointed to the true Comforter. It feels void sometimes, this empty space that used to be filled with so much stimulation and information, but I think we’re just making room for the One Who is supposed to fill all our spaces.


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One Comment on “Gone Monastic”

  1. Sara DeLawder November 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    I am so blessed to get to be a part of what the Lord is doing in and through you – just by reading your posts! Simplicity is what I long for in our culture of busyness – it’s what I want for my children. I am continually learning to say “no” and praying for wisdom on what to allow in and through my life. You all are an inspiration to everyone who claims to follow Jesus! Thank you for your service and sacrifice – the Lord is using you there for a time but also here through your blogs and posts to build others in the faith too – Love you both!

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