By Tammy Townsend Denny, TI Executive Director
In this first week of the new year when my renewed commitment to doing things that enliven my brain and spark my soul is still fresh, I read Brian Doyle’s essay “A Better Monk Would Know.” Doyle begins the essay, “I was in a monastery the other day and got to talking to a monk who, when I asked him why he was a monk… said, because it’s hard.”
The monk goes on, “Because I am not sure I can do it all… let alone do it well, and do it for years and years, perhaps for my whole life.”
My professional work; my home life; my spiritual life; the way I parent and step-parent; the relationship with my husband; my coursework for my Master of Divinity program; the way I wash my face, brush my teeth, blow-dry my hair; the way I exercise; the garden I plant; the books I want to read; the healthy food I want to eat – all of it! I am not sure I can do it all and do it well for years and years.
The temptation is to curl up on the couch, pull a blanket over my head, and watch Netflix until my brain turns to mush.
But Doyle’s monk continues, “I try to be a good monk for a week at a time… I might have been happy and fulfilled in a dozen ways. But I knew inside that I had to try to do what was hard for me to do, to be of best use.”
This year, our Theresian Litany of Solidarity invites us to stand in solidarity through prayer and action with women emerging in leadership in church and society -- the women, like you and me, who are not sure they can do it all or do it well, but who have committed themselves to being of best use by doing difficult things.
As we prayerfully unite to support women emerging in leadership, I invite you to spend some time with Doyle’s essay “A Better Monk Would Know.” What does it say to you about the emerging leaders in your life, in your church, in your family, and in your Theresian community? What does it say to you about being of best use and doing hard things?
My hope is that 2024 is filled with opportunities for each of us to take these words of Doyle’s monk to heart: “I cannot explain why I hope that what I do matters; all I can do is do what I do, either well or ill, patiently or not, gracefully or not.”