As Residents at Impact 360 Institute, we have the privilege of walking alongside the Fellows as they discover who God created them to be. However, many of us are also in the process of discerning God’s call for our lives. To help us deepen our understanding of vocation, we spent a day at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA. This trip exposed us to ancient and modern rhythms of prayer and work, which we hope to reclaim and apply in our lives at Impact 360.
Though they live in relative seclusion from the rest of the world, the Trappist monks are a Kingdom-minded community. Their doors remain open to visitors like us to experience God’s presence by participating in worship services and walking the peaceful grounds. The monks operate a food bank and are highly skilled in baking, stained glass making, and gardening. However, five times each day, they set aside this work to focus their attention on God. Through liturgy, Scripture reading, music, and prayer, the monks express devotion to the One whom they serve through their vocational labors. By this practice, they are following Jesus’ command to love the Lord first and neighbors second (Mark 12:29-31). For us Residents, this was a beautiful reminder that as good and important as our work at Impact 360 is, it must always be done in response to God’s love, not to earn his love. The monks modeled for us how to pursue the kind of vertical relationship with God that overflows into our horizontal relationships with others.
After attending the Midday Prayer service in the Abbey, our group met with one of the brothers. He likened his life as a monk to being an astronaut. “Astronauts explore outer space,” he said. “Monastics are also explorers, but we explore inner space, which is scarier.” Exploring our inner selves often means wading through darkness and doubts, but it is not a journey we make alone. God goes with us into this darkness, revealing himself as both our guide and destination. “Eventually,” said the brother, “we will reach the core of our being, our heart, and it is there that God will be waiting.”
Amid this busy season of our lives, it is tempting to prioritize work over prayer. Yet, even when our schedules are full and we neglect to spend time with God, he waits for us. Isaiah 30:18 says, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore he waits on high to have compassion on you.” The monks at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit receive this compassion in abundance and then share it with others. They intentionally remove internal and external distractions so that their hearts can find rest in God. This takes discipline, but caring for our souls is not a luxury; it is a necessity.
Our Resident community is grateful for the time we spent at the monastery. God is equipping us for our future vocations through our present acts of devotion to him.
Newport Beach, CA