The Nomad: Part 2

In my last blog I wrote about how we all wander through this earth either in the wilderness or in civilized places. While I took the metaphor quite literally to explain how I see the world, I alluded to a figurative understanding of a wandering life. In this next installment in the idea of wandering, I want to illuminate its necessary counterpart, stability. Stability is not contradictory to our wanderings but rather paradoxical. It is like how a map and compass gives a sense of direction on unfamiliar trails and unpredictable weather on a mountain. For example, some friends and I got lost while on a backpacking trip on the Art Loeb trail. We were unfamiliar with the trails since we had gotten into a wilderness area. We finally sensed we were heading in the wrong direction so we pulled out the map and compass and found our way back to the right trail.

This idea of stability comes from the Benedictine Rule of monastic life, which is how I’ve come to know about and experience it in my own wanderings. I’ve come to understand that you don’t have to live in a monastery to be able to have this guiding light of stability in your life, in fact, you can work a 9-5 job and have the same sense of thrill and security. So how do you obtain this stability? You pray.

Life here at Nashotah House is centered around chapel where we pray the prayers of the church, and of course, our own. The prayers of the church are the prayers that have been passed down through every generation. The Phos Hilaron, a prayer that dates from the 3rd century, says “Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The faithful prayers of God’s people teach us the orthodox faith and connect us with Christians throughout the ages. These prayers then allow us to pray extemporaneously within the realm of orthodoxy, which are added to the prayers ascending to the heavens. Engaging in prayer requires discipline therefore creating in the foundation for stability.

There are many forms of prayer that we are able to practice. We have prayers from the Old Testament found in the Psalms, to the Lord’s prayer, to contemplative prayer, discursive prayer, and lectio divina… to name a few. These forms of prayer ebb and flow from season to season depending on our wanderings, giving us always a connection to the divine Father in heaven. The beauty of praying is that you can do it anywhere and at anytime, and some might say, at all time and in all places thus guiding us through the wilderness of life by connecting us to the Light.

There is a story of a desert father who was visited by a pupil of his and said, “Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and according as I am able I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts; now what more should I do?” The monk rose from his seat and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: “Why not be totally changed into fire?” (Desert Fathers: LXXII). Making a habit out of prayer should not produce a sour old human bur rather a joy filled individual full of life and love for others. We become like the light of the world that shines in the darkness that is our world in the work of prayer. So, why not be utterly be consumed by Christ and be stability for others in the wilderness?

I’ve been praying in gratitude for feeling content in my present stage of life. I’ve been content being single, something I didn’t think could happen. Things that I would have never imagine to come in life has come through this time of being content. I’ve met some cool people in the little city of Delafield, done a lot of reading/studying, and completed another triathlon. These things seem like minor events, but they’re what have been occupying my time and giving me a lot of joy. So making prayer my practice has allowed me to being content which in turn has allowed me to be fully present with the people around me in the midst of what I perceive to be a wilderness.

Until next time.

 

Here I am after my triathlon.

It took 2 hours and 48 minutes

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The Nomad: Part 1

I’ve often wanted to ask people how they view the world. It’s an odd question to ask. It’s an even odder question to answer. As I’ve thought about asking that question, I’ve started to think through how I would answer. My answer is multifaceted, one part of it, I think, ties into why I’ve named my blog “The Nomad.” I wanted to take some time to illustrate how it is that I see the world and how it ties into what I have been up to as of late.

I often close my eyes when I’m stressed, or have been really busy, and think about specific places I’ve been in my life. It’s like going through a personal photo album that’s infinitely more vivid having my memories tied to deep emotions and enriching sensations. Although I do retreat back into those memories for some sort of solace from stressors, it is not to escape but rather to find a sense of pleasure and a spirit of thankfulness in order to continue the work that has been placed upon me. These memories are often set in wild places like on the Ocoee river in the mountains of Tennessee, on Mount Currahee in North Georgia, or high in the Andes Mountains, southwest of Cusco. They can also often be in busy city streets like on the Via Delarosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, near the Rua Augusta Arch in Lisbon, Portugal, or on a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam. So with the spirit of a nomad, I’ve been blessed to be able to wander in some wild and civil places. Which in the end, describes how I see the world. We are all wanderers, whether in the wilderness or in the midst of the most civilized places of the world.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about one particular memory of a rafting trip down the Ocoee River on a summer day. The conditions were favorable for rafting that day; the sun was out with clear blue skies, which made the chilly water extremely refreshing when it splashed on us going down rapids. The trees were a deep green, a green that only the summer heat and rain can produce, and the rolling foothills of the Smokey Mountains populated the wild landscape. I had laughed a lot seeing my campers fall out of the raft, all the while feeling a sense of danger from the perilous rushing water that traps anyone against a rock or in a hole or rapid if given the chance. These feelings of glee and peril captured me at one moment and then fled immediately while going around a bend of the river. There was a giant face of a cliff baring itself to us as we turned a corner. I had a sense of awe at the sight of a cliff that stood high and wild with brush dangling precariously on ledges and moss covering certain sections of the face dripping with moisture from the earth behind it. The sun was not directly on it so it gave the face a mysterious, old, and ominous look to it as it looked down upon us, this single raft full of young human beings oblivious to all it has seen in its life time.

This memory has been with me recently mainly because I’m getting back into the routine of class and going to chapel and I would love the chance to unwind by going down a river. It doesn’t help that the weather here in Wisconsin is beautiful. Furthermore, I’ve thought about this memory because it makes me feel small, which is a freeing feeling. I think about that moment of seeing the cliff, hearing the rushing river, the warmth of the air, the smell of the water, and the sense of pleasure from trying to stay alive. These feelings remind me of how fleeting life is, that we’re to take pleasure in the twists and turns of life, and to give ourselves to our creator. In seeking to lose our life, we find it.

I realize I can make the best of every situation and acknowledge that some things aren’t able to be fought (much like the currents of a river). Going along with unpredictable currents sometimes brings you to unknown but breathtaking places. So whether we tend toward wild or civil places, we all end up in places we had never thought we would be.

I never thought I’d be getting a Masters of Divinity at a neat, semi-monastic community in Wisconsin. I never thought I’d be on track to become an Anglican priest. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve met so many cool people along my path and have learned some really interesting lessons. Most of all, I’ve learned more about the Creator of the Universe who watches over the wanders of this world. He knows and cares for all, and I want to be the same with all who I come across either in the wilderness or in the city.

Getting Started

Dear friends,

I am sure that if many of you would see me you would smile and ask me how I was doing. I, in my own way, would smile back and say, “great,” or “fine,” and ask you how you are doing. Such pleasant interactions are missed since this is a newsletter of sorts. I am in fact doing well. I am currently in Tallahassee, Fl working as an intern at a parish called St. Peter’s Anglican Church, where I am fulfilling internship requirements for my Masters of Divinity program at Nashotah House Theological School in Wisconsin. It is a blessing to be able to be doing and applying this specific kind of trade that I have been studying the last year. I am teaching an 8 week class on the book of Ecclesiastes, preaching, and helping with services.

Nashotah House is a unique place in that it forms future clergy for the work of the ministry by a very old way of practice. We all live on a semi-remote piece of land in between Milwaukee and Madison on Upper Nashotah Lake where we have a rhythm of life much like many monasteries throughout history. A large bell calls us to worship three times a day, every day of the week. The first bell rings at 8:00, the second at 12:30, and the third at 16:30. We have breakfast together after the morning service followed by class then lunch. Depending on what day it is, after lunch we either go to another class, our designated work crew, or to the library to study. Then our day (officially) ends at the last appointed time of prayer. After the evening prayers, I usually get some exercise, have dinner, and get back to work.

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This way of life has been really formative for me. I have learned is the importance of quietness and patience. Our lives are very busy and we are prone to different struggles, even in a monastic community. I found the value of being diligent in prayer regardless of the how ‘busy’ I felt I was. I learned that the times of prayer helped me to focus not on just what I was doing buy why I was doing it.

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I am studying to get a Masters of Divinity in order that I might continue on in my ordination process. I am in that process because I believe that I am on a path of becoming like Jesus Christ, as the scriptures say, and because I am part of the larger body of believers I have been gifted by the Holy Spirit with certain gifts that help build the body. Therefore I am humbly pursing the call to ministry so that I might be used as an instrument for the body of Christ.

Along with learning to be quiet, I have learned to be patient. We live in a culture that is to get things really quickly. So moving to a different state in order to study for three years to get a degree takes time and patience. Studying to learn the depths of scripture and 2,000 years of church history takes time and patience. Most of all, letting go of old relationships and forging new one takes time and patience. I have been learning, continue to learn, and will learn my entire life to be patient for good things to come.

Learning to be quiet and patient is what has been forming me to becoming a future priest. With those characteristics, I hope the Lord will use those things to help shape a generation of people who are waiting expectantly on the Lord to use them in this chaotic world as people of peace.

If you think this endeavor of bringing peace on earth is important, then we can partner together. I need help to get there. School is a full time endeavor that takes a lot of energy and is rather expensive. I have a small part time job at a local restaurant as a server on the weekends, however it does not completely satisfy the expenses I have. If you are interested in helping me, please keep me in your prayers and consider how you can help financially. This blog will keep you updated with prayer request and other happenings in my life.

You will find below ways to give money.

Sincerely,
Fabien Pering

  • Donate online by going to nashotah.edu, clicking on ‘give,’ then ‘support a seminarian,’ and find my name
  • Make a check out to Nashotah House Theological Seminary, writing my name on the memo line, and sending it to 2777 Mission Rd, Nashotah, WI 53058
  • Donate online by going to apostlescolumbia.org, click on ‘giving,’ ‘click here to donate online now,’ ‘continue to online giving,’ and write SEMINARIAN FUND in the memo text box
  • Make a check out to Church of the Apostles, making a special note to write SEMINARIAN FUND on the memo. Then send the check to 1520 BULL STREET, COLUMBIA, SC 29201