So today a couple of the junior monks from Korea (they are part of a monastery in New Jersey) organized a soccer game. I got out there about an hour late (that whole class thing, you know), but was able to play for about 45 minutes or so and then I ran some windsprints. My friend Trish was really hoping that they'd play in their robes, but they were in shorts and t-shirts like anyone else would be. We had a lot of fun and as always I learn a lot about someone by competing with them and against them. They are good guys, all of them.
Last Friday night I had a pretty bad collision in my game and have had bruised ribs all week. I made contact again today and stung pretty bad. So if you see me over the next couple of days, please don't make me laugh.
I mentioned that after playing I ran some windsprints. As I was running them, I was thinking about my teammates in Galveston. We run together after practice as a way of improving our team fitness. It occurred to me that running the windsprints alone was a lot more difficult than running them in a group -- not physically, because my body is the same, but emotionally. It's just harder to do it by yourself. I think that Benedict understood this principle in putting together his rule for monasticism. Spiritual growth is incredibly difficult to do by yourself, but having brothers makes it more likely to happen.
The paradox of spiritual growth is that it something you do by yourself, but you don't do alone.