Fr. Henri Nouwen says that the monastery does not exist to “solve problems” of those within. It exists only to praise You. You are not impressed, he says, with monasticism in itself.
I am not a monk, but the monastic ideal has a strong pull in my life. Its pull for me is because it seems to offer a style of life that accommodates seeking You in ways a mundane and pedestrian existence does not.
I think Nouwen makes a good point, and one worth reflecting upon: monasticism, like devotions, rituals, and traditions is a device of human conjuring. There is purpose all along the way in such things, and that is what ennobles them. As a race, at various stages in our spiritual growth, we have adopted such things as effective in our desire to establish and nurture a relationship with You. We will forever do so because of the restlessness of our hearts. The efforts connote desire, and that is good; but there is a pitfall here that I think Nouwen recognized and wanted us to consider and that is that our very being, minus any trappings or anything else we devise, should praise God. If we use ritual, devotion, tradition or the elements of the monastic life to this end in our own lives – that is good! What You desire is the indefatigable marriage of our spirit to Yours. This is what we were created for. This is why we exist. This is Your will. How we recognize and move to conform ourselves with Your will is our will and all those “trappings” we speak of may, at various times in our growth, be necessary pre-nuptials.
The concept of the union inherent in marriage aptly applies here. Each individual must lose him/herself in love of the other. You showed us this. It may just be that monasticism serves as a more focused means of losing our “selves” than others. The celebration of the monastic ideal as a “problem-solving” end in itself is, in that sense, not necessarily better than a person’s devotions, rituals or traditions. What You are about is the end to which all such means bring us.