Thomas McKenzie
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The Monastery


The Learning Channel has a new series on TV (based on a British show) called "The Monastery." Its about five men who are placed in a monastery for 40 days. Its sort of a reality show, sort of a documentary. You can see it at http://tlc.discovery.com/fansites/monastery/monastery.html

On one hand, it sounds great. Looking into the lives of monks, showing them to be the real men that they actually are. Allowing men from a variety of backgrounds to experience a cloistered Christian community. Wow, what could be better?

Here is where its getting weird for me. The actual monastery where this was filmed was Christ in the Desert in New Mexico. That's the monastery I have made an annual pilgrimage to for the past five years. Its the place I go in order to get away from the world and be solitary with God. Its the place where God speaks loudly to me.

Now its on TV. That freaks me out. All the beautiful vistas I have made pictures of and kept in my office are there on the web. Now the Abbot, who I have seen many times but have never spoken to, is a character on a TV show. I read his public letter each week, and I really like what he has to say. I like his personality and character. I think I project a lot of good things on to him. And now he's on TV.

I feel like that monastery is a room in my heart. And now there are TV crews going around in it. Its a special place, almost a secret place. One of the reasons I go there is that it is so remote, so under the radar. Now I'm scared its going to become crowded, like Gethsemani in Kentucky. I'm afraid its going to become commercialized. I'm just not happy about this.

I think its good for the Monastery. More press means more visitors, more buying from their gifts shops, and therefore more money for their work. And they are doing a lot of work. But, for me, it just sucks.

My favorite, most private spot on earth has been discovered by TV. That makes me so sad.

SpiritualityThomas McKenzie