When I first met the girl who was to become my wife I was trying to live as a monk in an old house owned by a Southern Baptist church in Chico, California. My room was in back, and on weekends my brother hosted all-age indie rock shows in the living room. I worked part-time as a caregiver for children with developmental disabilities, and I subsisted mainly on ramen noodles and microwave popcorn. I bought books when I was flush and sold them back when I was broke. I made vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but the vows were easy: I had no money, no mate, and only myself to answer to. I was only too happy to exchange a different set of vows with Kate Stokes in November 2002.
My adventures in monkhood can be traced back to early encounters with Rich Mullins and Thomas Merton. Rich Mullins was a Christian singer-songwriter I still admire. He was drawn to St. Francis, and he incorporated certain monastic principles into his own life. Mullins died in a car accident in 1997, one month shy of his 42nd birthday.
Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk who died of accidental electrocution in December 1968 at the age of 52.… Read the rest