Any contemplative identity comes not so much from an individual endowment as from the melding that follows on a common search. In the familiar terms of psychology, we would probably be safe in assuming most monks to be introvert and intuitive. It is not the practical aspect of the life that attracts them, but the inner experience born of dwelling on the mysteries of faith. Against a backdrop of psalmody, work, reading, and the celebration of the Christian mysteries of faith, and a participation in the drama by way of one’s life, is the power that unites. Even a group as restrained and unobtrusive as ours reveals a love that cannot be hidden and is obvious to all who are sensitive and responsive. And it is a quest not through ministry and service of the people of God but a quest within. By some instinct, as it were, men so endowed come here.
The challenge, of course, is one’s response to the call and fidelity to it. When these weaken or fail, the love of all will soon wither, for there is nothing to sustain it. Such a one will walk out on the monks without difficulty. We do not love one another because we choose one another as friends. No more than soldiers choose their buddies in the corps, or players their team mates. It is the pursuit that creates love, nurtures and develops it. Call it a contemplative identity if you will, a certain cast of soul that prefers inner to outer, pondering to preaching, quiet to action. In a context of beauty and peace, barren of noise and strife, contention and confrontation, such people thrive. And it is the whole that matters: church, chapter, refectory, work, prayer, study, silence, and solitude.