Because we are small and often responding to the needs of others, or of the farm, we rarely have an actual ordinary day. But we think that is how most of the world lives! True, we may have to modify our contemplative life to fix broken water pipes in an olive field, but friends in cities also wake up with a plan for a peaceful day and find themselves blindsided by some circumstance of modern life.
What we can share here are our goals as reflected in the daily schedule, our response to the seasons, choices we make to keep life simple (hopefully), our sense of sacred space, and our stewardship of the land.
It is said that if you wish to know a monastic community you must first look at its daily schedule. It is “the life” itself which is the chief defining influence on a community. When it comes to Starcross it is hard to decide what a “typical” day is. We are required to respond to many needs which cause modifications in our schedule. What follows is the desired schedule for an ordinary weekday in the summer – the reality is usually not too far from the hope.
7:00 AM – The New Day
This is a quiet time which is used for meditation, walking, exercise, awareness, reflection, haiku, drawing and the like.
8:30 AM – Lauds
We meet in the chapel or outdoors to sing, meditate, and listen to readings and the sounds of creation. Afterwards, we prepare and eat breakfast, often outside if the weather permits.
9:00 AM – Morning Work Period
It could be anything and everything: office work, picking apples and canning, mowing the fields, weeding 1800 organically grown olive trees, gathering wood for winter, writing spiritual reflections, meetings on African AIDS orphans, being available for someone in spiritual need who has contacted us, answering mail or e-mail, preparing a newsletter, tutoring children, work on self-support projects such as making bows for the wreaths we sell at Christmas, doctor visits, etc., etc., etc.
12:15 – Angelus
A brief time to remember that there is more to our life than the work we do every day.
12:30 PM – Lunch
1:30 PM – Afternoon Work Period
This can be a continuation of the morning work or a special activity. It may be simple space for enrichment in many different ways.
4:00 – Tea
This is a restful time for coming together and celebrating each other. We might take a short walk before Vespers and stroll through the olive grove.
5:00-6:00 PM – A Contemplative Hour
This is a quiet time. Some of us gather together in the chapel for Vespers/Evensong to sing, listen to reflections, and sit in quiet meditation. This is also the time we read aloud from our Memorial Books a short reflection on the lives of those loved ones our friends have asked us to remember each year. Others meditate alone under the trees or in our little meditation room, go walking through the olive groves, or simply watch the sunset. But, wherever we may be, we feel each other’s spiritual support at this time of common prayer.
6:00 PM – Dinner
7:00 PM – Family Time
We usually do things together. Reading books aloud is one of the favorite activities. At times we watch television. At some point we bid each other goodnight and go to our rooms, where we read for a while or listen to music.
9:30 PM – The Time of Quiet
Without being rigid we manage to maintain a spirit of stillness through the night, unless there is sickness or some unusual situation. On clear nights, sometimes we walk out together to see the night sky.