Do you think Benedict and Scholastica were something like disciplined hippies?
I’m not sure if the phrase is welcome or offensive, but I’ve been pondering it this past week. The phrase suddenly flew into my head when I was thinking about the person I’ve begun dating and the things we have in common. We both work very hard at what we do and are responsible reliable sorts, but what we do involves a lifestyle that’s counter-cultural in some ways. He spent 14 years as primary homemaker for two boys (neither his own biologically) and has worn his hair long, and I’ve always instinctively resisted traditional gender expectations. Neither of our careers is especially productive or practical (his teaching guitar six days a week to 50 students, mine teaching religious studies and writing as a theologian). I’ve got a more “elite granola” dimension; I am part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that grows organic food, and I think about things like buying unbleached napkins. He’s got a more “redneck” dimension; he loves car shows and has played bass in the house band for Memphis’ annual Elvis impersonation shows. But an underlying similarity is still there: being disiciplined in the creative/impractical arts; being a mix of left- and right-brained, orderly and analytical yet intuitive and aesthetic.
It occurs to me that many monastic communities are filled with disciplined hippies of one sort or another, and that many oblates probably fit that description as well. To foster any community in a way that drinks deep from the wells of Christ-like vision takes habits of attention and responsibility and thinking/living outside the box. Perhaps this mix of discipline and freedom-to-critique-the-status-quo is what draws some of us more to oblate communities than to less structured or tradition-shaped experiments in community.