I’d like to share a little more desert …

Just laying here, eating pills and crackers, gives me time to think. And write. So I  thought I’d share one last thought today and then try to take a nap. So …

Poustinia: Derived from the Russian word for desert a poustinia is a small sparsely furnished room or cabin. Its a place for someone to go in order to fast and pray, and to be alone with God.

Poustinik: A person who lives the above permanently. It is a calling without formal consecration or vows.

Poustiniks have existed in the Russian Orthodox Church for some time. Over the past several decades it has been accepted more and more by Roman Catholics as a valid spiritual calling and has been adopted, with the permission of a spiritual adviser or someone in a similar position, by many.

Specifically, a poustinik lives alone. Strictly speaking a poustinik is not a hermit, although many see it as something similar. For myself, other than the fact that they live alone, I don’t see the resemblance. A poustinik helps in the community when help is needed. For example, in Russia when it was time to harvest crops the poustinik would lend a hand where needed. That doesn’t sound like a hermit to me, being actively engaged in community endeavors,  although I suppose a hermit could certainly do the same if called upon. A poustinik also has an “open door” policy. When a visitor comes they are greeted by the poustinik with, “Welcome. Come in and share what God has blessed me with.” Again, this doesn’t sound like a hermit to me. Not that hermits are inhospitable. I don’t mean that at all. Its just that hermits, in my mind, live a more secluded existence and because of that probably don’t get that many knocks on the door.

I explain the above because in my mind, whether I’m right or wrong, a poustinik is very socially inclined even tho they live alone. I don’t see it as being like a hermit at all. And I suppose that as being a poustinik is a personal calling it lends itself, at least in part, to a personal definition.

I was reading about poustiniks and it seemed to me that living as a poustinik, with a few simple and necessary modifications given a persons time and place, would be a wonderful way for someone who lives alone and is a Benedictine Oblate to live the Rule of Saint Benedict more fully. A sort of calling within a vocation. And, given today’s world and the people who are spiritually seeking, it could easily be a good way for any single person to live if they feel called to it and have the proper permission.

There was one other thing that drew my attention to the life of a poustinik. It was the reason for the open door policy. People go to the poustinik to talk. Maybe they need advice, or maybe they need to share a joy or sorrow, perhaps they’re lonely, some folks need to vent, and of course there are people who just want to talk. The poustinik is there for them. Now for me the first thing that comes to mind  is that anyone giving advice needs some life experience if nothing else. So I’d say again, life experience being what it is and normally including others, the poustinik would be more of a social being than one given to retreating from the world.

I thought this something worth sharing. It seems to me a fine calling and maybe someone reading this will feel drawn. I felt drawn when I heard of it. I went over the concept with the Oblate Director at Subiaco Abbey, and it was pretty obvious to me that the Spirit of God was working through him. I explained my view of it, a poustinik being a kind of spiritual activist, and when he saw that it wasn’t going to be a reason for me shutting people out but rather a way of inviting them in and going out to them, he gave me his permission to live my Oblate life as a poustinik. He gave me some good advice to help keep me in the right place spiritually and I’m thankful. A good portion of my “open door”, given my health, is this blog and my Facebook pages. Hopefully this new viewpoint will bring me closer to Christ and help me help others to do the same.

Now, all of you, welcome! Come share with me what God has blessed me with. 🙂