Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A monk without a monastery

I was thinking just the other day that I should have been a monk. The things that I love to do are traditional favorites of the monks. I have learned to travel alone on the road while gardening and making beer. So, just call me a vagabonding monk.

While you don't have to live in solitude to pursue a relationship with God, solitude sure makes it easy to concentrate. Monks would stay away from the general population by living in a self sustaining abbey. They felt that being alone with do away with any concerns about how people saw them and left them with only the though of how God saw them.

Modern church members still like to get their members away from the daily distractions of life but they call these trips a retreat. However, as with many activities in the US, a retreat these days comes with restaurant food and staying in a hotel. Neither of which is conducive to getting back to the basics of relying on God to provide. Embarking on a 14 day trip to the desert with nary a soul around except your own is a really good way to concentrate solely on God. You don't have to go with just your clothes but the less you take, the more you rely on Him.

I like to grow my own food and even have been known to forage for some of it. People are always generous with the vegetable gardens because they plant way more than they can eat. I never turn down free vegetables and can often go foraging to find many people willing to share.
In my limited space, I take the chance to grow what ever I can fit into a pot and carry with me. Since I never travel far between destinations, I just put the pots in the back of the pickup for transport.

Ah, one of my favorite past times is brewing my own beer. Monks would produce and sell goods to provide income for the monastery. Since they were not forbidden to drink, they produced alcohol for themselves and sold it for income. The first wine produced in the US was produced by Spanish monks in what is now Texas. Monks are also responsible for some of the best beer including the Trappist ales. I have had the pleasure of traveling to Belgium and tasting one of their ales.

Grains or flour, sugars, and yeast are the key ingredients. Beer has been called the liquid bread so there are a lot of similarities with making the two. This is also a stable of the abbey that monks would produce for their consumption and sell to provide them income. Bread is the best thing to add to a meal when outdoors. It goes great with those stews or soups. I even make tortillas over a wood fire. When you have more time to do your own activities there is more time for cooking a good meal.

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