Frequently Asked Questions
I have my new Monk Manual in hand. I have read all of the instructions in the manual and online. I am ready to begin but I am stuck at the first spot. In selecting priorities for the day I seem to be clueless. I think I have worked hard at making sure I am not burdened with priorities in particular and just go with the flow. I’m not sure if this is living intentionally or not. Please give me some further insights.
As human beings we thrive amongst the tension of chaos and order. Anytime you try to get rid of one or the other entirely your run into issues.
All people yearn deeply for freedom. Paradoxically freedom does not mean freedom from all commitment. In fact it is sometimes our commitments which enable us to have the greatest freedom. The boundaries we set in our lives bring a sense of clarity and enable us to go deeper right where we are.
It can be helpful to see the balancing act here if we think of time like money. Money is a limited resource, as is our time , yet our time often can feel almost infinite, possibly because for most of us there is a sense that there is so much left.
With money a person can certainly spend as they wish, with little intentionality, but it is likely that they will not make the greatest use of their money behaving in this way. Without intentionality they will become a victim to their own passions or whatever is in front of them and will miss the big picture, or the longer term “yeses” of life. On the other end of the spectrum, we can become so rigid that we obsess over money and become enslaved to their finances.
Most of us are meant to walk a middle path of intentionality and openness to the present.
Our priorities are usually the top three things I feel I’m supposed to get done on a given day. These are the things that are meant to center my focus and make sure I don’t get caught up in distractions and squander the time that I have been given. Still I try to stay open, and sometimes I don’t do these priorities, or my plans change. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because just asking the question of what is most important for me to spend my time on each day opens up a new sense of stewardship and freedom which you carry with you throughout the day.
I would also argue that even St. Francis could use the Monk Manual, as he could easily tailor the priorities section to his state in life. Rather than list a project or some action, he could instead put something qualitative or virtue based.
Hope that makes some semblance of sense, please let me know any follow up questions you may have.