A month ago I was able to spend a night and a day with fellow monastic brothers of the Catholic faith in Washington DC, at St. Anselm’s Abbey, for a symposium on meditation in the various major religious traditions. This included representatives from Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and myself as the Buddhist representative in place of Bhante G who did this in years past.
The Symposium was a wonderful experience for members from the various religious faiths to come together in friendship and share what meditation is and how it is practiced in their traditions. I think more gatherings like this need to take place in this country, with the religious and non-religious alike, to bridge gaps and bring unity over division.
I have to admit though, what I liked most of all was spending time with the Benedictine brothers and getting to know them and how they live. It was a laid back, joyful atmosphere with an undercurrent of dignified seriousness in their mission.
The brothers instantly welcomed me into their groups and conversations. Many remembered Bhante G and asked about his welfare, and others had visited Bhavana in years past. They were kind and sociable and wanting to make sure I felt at home and had everything I needed. I attended mass and the various monastic activities with them and got to experience the day in a life of a catholic monk.
The Abbot, Abbot James Wiseman, in my opinion lived up to his name. A quiet, elderly, unassuming monk(who I couldn’t pick out from the other monks and didn’t realize I was talking to the Abbot until about 5 minutes in) who actually took one of my bags and lead me to my room himself.
His humility and kindness reminded me of watching Ajahn Brahm at work on the streets of New York City, pretending to be bell hop at Google and opening the doors for people with a smile and a “welcome to google!”.
Abbot James impressed me greatly as someone who provides a good example in humility, dignity, and service, to his fellow monastics. He had an impact as an example on myself as well, as I grow as a monastic and mold myself into something better.