The NT calls me to "remain in Christ" and to “pray continually without ceasing.” In the light of our fast-paced society this seems impossible. There are so many distractions, and responsibilities not to mention the issues going inside my own head. Henri Nouwen once said that his mind was like a banana tree full of monkeys. I can relate. So, I dream about what it would be like to ‘get away’ or think about having more hours in the day, or more gadgets to save me time.
I could be a monk but that doesn’t seem to be practical. No doubt I look good in brown but I’m married, have kids and responsibilities. (One of my favorite monks was a guy named, Simeon the Stylite. Simeon fled society and entered the monastery. After a few years he decided that even the busy monastery interrupted his communion with God so he built a little hut and chained himself to a pole. But people kept coming by asking him to pray for them so he moved into a cave, then atop an old pillar about 10 feet high. Amazingly he found that people still stopped by, yelling, asking him for advice or for prayers. Finally he built a 60-foot pillar where apparently he lived for the remainder of his life. Simeon the Stylite was serious about removing himself from all distractions!)
While I truly appreciate the goal of one heading off to the monastery and shedding all worldly attachments it's not something I'll be able to do. My goal has got be building "little monastery's" right inside my own life. Places I can briefly go to get away. Times I set aside devoted only to God. Practices that often remind me of Him.
In many ways cultivating these habits in the midst of everyday life is more difficult than retreating into the mountains. But... difficult only in the sense that I tend to quantify difficulties, measuring them against each other, against what others are doing and getting caught up in thinking how spiritual I am to make them all a part of my routine. On the other hand, the picture Jesus painted - "I am the vine, you are the branches...", "Remain in me and I'll remain in you..." - is much less stressful. I've got a lemon tree in my backyard. I've never once heard it groan or strain in order to produce lemons. It just does. This is my goal in the middle of distraction... to remain in Him... to grow in Him... to just be....
(BTW - This is different than being like Him. Being like Him is impossibly hard. The NT asks me to be in Him. That is radically different than being like Him.)
So, I'm learning what it means to "remain in Him" at all times and to grow in spite of all the chaos around me.