As I take a deeper look at our inner monastery, I think of St. Teresa's Interior Castle. The outer "room" (first mansion) is where people try to stop offending God. They may perform a few good works. They are free from serious sin and the King does dwell in their castle, writes Father Thomas Dubay, "but they have only a tenuous relationship with Him, and they scarcely see His light, so submerged are they in things of the world."
"What then, is the beginner to do?" asks Father. "Most people cannot leave the world in a bodily sense, but every follower of Christ who is serious about genuine growth must leave the spirit of the world." This is a "cloistered heart" statement if ever I've heard one.
Thankfully, Father Dubay provides direction on how to move forward..... how to, in effect, find the door in the wall: "The main business of the beginner, therefore, is to make a determined turnabout from preoccupation with this worldly life to a life centered in the Trinity." (quotes above from Thomas Dubay SM, Fire Within, Ignatius, 1989, pp. 81-82; click this line for a link to the book).
At this point I would like to share something written by a friend. Having once been in the postulancy and novitiate of a Religious Community, Rose brings a perspective I have never personally known.
"When I left the convent... I had this idea that prayer, holiness, and the spiritual life were for the religious vocation and hidden behind high, thick brick walls. I longed to find a crack in that wall so I could have just a tiny taste of the spiritual life I once knew. Then the Holy Spirit brought the Cloistered Heart to me. The Cloistered Heart allowed me to squeeze through a tiny crack in that big brick wall. I long for the fullness of all of God's promises for those who love Him to the heights. And if that sounds presumptive, then so be it, because I know that it is meant for us all. Not just the Religious or the saints, but for all......"
Can I identify with Rose's words? Am I ready to leave behind anything that walls me off from total surrender of self to God? Am I truly serious about my relationship with Christ?
If so, then my journey into the inner cloister has begun.