A Shabbas Table: "The Floating Monastory"

(Top image is of St Catherine holding the Church-as-a-ship, next one of the Church-ship as a healing light/lamp...which will make more sense later)

A couple posts ago, shared a qoute about trusting God "even for the weather". And also how it was the gift of rain that helped calm something when was at a stress highpoint this week. Well, the stress is still going on honestly...between all these doctors visits, and being dizzy all the time and barely able to swallow, and not being able to rest or feel "at home" becuase of all the noise here (at night too), not to mention the chemical sensitivity going through the roof more and more from all the fumes, and the exhausting dance of having to open and close the windows all day long...well i've been seriously about to lose it. But the experience Wednesday with the rain has really stayed with me as a comfort, a rope to hold in a sense. Keep remembering how something about the rain "softened the edges" of things somehow. And how i'd heared so strongly "notice this" (notice how the rain had made such a difference). It had made me think then of the "not a desert but an ocean" image that keeps coming up a lot. And i've found myself going back to it again and again through the stress of late, something keeps beckoning.

One image thats really stood out lately is what is called the "floating monastory". This is an ancient Celtic custom that i'd recently read about when was exploring St Brenden before. To set the scene before going into it, in the early days of Christianity there was a growing tradition of the "desert" monastics... which began in the Middle East and made its way over into Europe. Its what has still influenced monastic life greatly today. But it was not the only path there, i am just more and more convinced of that. I look back to Biblical times and see plently of desert images... Christ in the Desert, God in the Burning Bush, Elijah in his desert cave. But there are also plently of very deep water images. Baptism itself, Christ calming the waters, Noah's ark, Jonah and the whale, Rebekka at the well, and so many more i'm sure. More and more i am convinced that the desert is not the only path/image for living a life more "set apart" life....there is also the ocean.

The thing is, the desert is a traditional place for soldier training and the early desert monastics saw their going apart as a sort of spiritual warfare. Warfare and battling is really bound in with the archetype of the desert it seems...the desert even battles with our own bodies, making us become more rigorous just to survive in it. Such perfect training for a soldier or a hero really, for toughening up for battle (physically or spiritually). And it sure was fitting for our most ultimate Hero (Hero to say the least), Our Lord, who frequently went to the desert of fast and pray. But.... what about Mary? She too had a sacred role to play and the desert was not her training ground for it.

And so ....what about her daughters? Men and women are not just "the same" after all, a woman is not typically designed to be hero or soldier but rather a nurturer and "keeper". And so while the desert is the perfect place for preparing the courage and rigor and toughening up one needs as a soldier... i feel it makes less sense for helping create the softness and openess and such needed so badly for a nurturer. What feels to provide that more strongly isnt the desert but the ocean as the image. Well, this has been explored a bit before...

But this new image that came acrosss recently was this Celtic idea of the "floating monastory". While those in the Middle East tended to off into the desert when there was the need for a spiritual pilgrimage or an especially prayerful and set apart life, those in the Celtic world tended towards the sea (such as St Brendon's sea voyage, of course, but also many others). The boat then became the monastery, the ocean in the place of the desert. And i dont know too much about these "floating monasteries" yet (couldnt find much) but the image itself really feels to really hold something. Becuase the Church herself has been traditionally seen as a ship....and a ship needs the ocean, not the desert. So this feels to be a very powerful image.

About the Church as ship, from here:

As those outside of Noah's Ark were destroyed, the ship became a perfect early symbol of the Church. In the same vein, the main part of a church's interior, the place where the people worship, is called a "nave," from the Latin "navis" -- ship.

and here:

The image of the Church as a boat in which the faithful find refuge from the sea of the world is extremely commonplace in medieval iconography. The architecture of the church building itself is meant to recall an image of a boat; the "nave" (from the Latin "navis" meaning "ship") is often constructed so that the roof resembles an upside-down ship's keel.

And there were some further thoughts in this vein back here.

Anyway, ive just been very drawn to this image of the floating monastery lately. The ship rather than the traditional "cell". Perhaps becuase my life seems to reflect the former more it seems, so far anyaway, so maybe i should just accept it. My little ship here (this little vintage trailer) will be moving yet again now. I knew when i moved here it was temporary and all that, knew the highway's fumes couldnt be lived by for long with the chemical sensitivity and all. But i did so enjoy the wilderness part of being here (how ironic, living on such a noisy-fume-y highway yet still being able to walk up the hill to such deep wilderness that was so dear). I had no idea though just how quickly that move would need to happen until all the new noise happened, along with the continuing impact of the fumes of course. But really, i'd have had to move eventually becuase of the fumes anyway, all this did was speed it up, so i shouldnt be complaining.

Have found someplace to move to, but its more in the city, which i was really trying to avoid. But i'm trying to trust its been found for a reason...and i'm gratfeul for it. Its offroad from the main street so there wont as much traffic fumes as here, and the neighbors (as far as i know anyway) seem quieter at least... so i'll be moving next week or so, and we'll see. This wont be where i "land" though, i can see that already, becuase its too close to neighbors. When someone has chemical sensitivity they need to be far from neighbors (unless those neighbors share or respect your sensitivity, which is rare)...becuase if not then eventually there's usually conflict due to their fumes making you ill. I know that now, though it took me awhile to admit it....its simply the reality. So i either need to somehow have a miracle happen of having land away from city and neighbor fumes to finally ground and be at home (blissful sigh, smile)....or i need to truly embrace this image of my home-cloister here as a ship, simply being led by Him even if not grounded in the traditional way. Or maybe both, that would be heaven. Will have to see what unfolds.

At any rate, the ship image has been such a healing one lately. Its grounding comes not from an owned and claimed spot of earth, but rather from a sacred life in itself, from here:

A way of life - a floating monastery:

The journey was guided and shaped by the rules, not of navigation alone, but of the monastery from which Brendan started out - feasts, festivals, fasts and psalms.

When he left his original more traditional monastory walls, he built them on the ship really.... through "feasts, festival, fasts and psalms". Such food for thought.

And the ship image goes further too , from here:

The ship (bark or barque, barchetta) was an ancient Christian symbol. Its is the Church tossed on the sea of disbelief, worldliness, and persecution but finally reaching safe harbor with its cargo of human souls. Part of the imagery comes from the ark saving Noah's family during the Flood (1 Peter 3:20-21). Jesus protecting the Peter's boat and the apostles on the stormy Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41) (is another.... And it is also symolic of) a means of conveyance between this world and the next. In Christian tradition, in which earthly life was seen as a pilgrimage, the ship of the church transports the faithful through the seas of the world to the heavenly home.

Through ths ship image, home really becomes simply...God. He is leading ones little ship. I am just finding more and more healing in this image.

Well, prayers for all that is happening would be so cherished if anyone is willing....for physical healing, for peace and quiet, for a calm and successful move, but most of all for a deepening trust.

A Very Blessed Shabbat all, and a wonderfully healing Sabbath : )

(Images from here and here)

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