My paternal grandfather built a lakeside home during his summer vacations and weekends while I was in high school. My brother Dwayne and I spent many summer days camping in tents on that property, a newly opened area previously owned by the Idaho State Forest Service. Priest Lake was a few hours drive from my grandfather’s city home in Spokane, Washington. Every moment of my grandfather’s free time was focused on that lakeside home. When he’d completed the house our whole family celebrated with a picnic near the dock where he kept his motor boat.
My very first thought of becoming a monk came to me on that property. At sixteen years of age I remember sitting on my grandfather’s dock in a lawn chair reading the classic Lutheran theological work, “The Book of Concord.” That part of the lake was rather remote, the perfect place for sitting in silence with my thoughts on God. I remember thinking that I would like to spend the rest of my life right there in that house, nestled in the forest on that beautiful lake.
I was aware of a Lutheran monastery, Saint Augustine’s House, located in Michigan. My pastor, when hearing of my interest, dismissed it as something we Lutherans just did not do. It was a foolish Catholic idea and certainly something that I should put out of my mind. He told me I should find a nice wife and live my life as a Lutheran minister.
Still, every time I went to my grandfather’s lakeside home I would think about how wonderful my life could be if the house were a monastery and I could live out my life in prayer and spiritual study.
My father was a golf pro, so my brother and I grew up playing golf and living a family life that was centered around a country club. Yet my desire to become a monk and dedicate my life to God grew stronger and stronger and I’m finally living that very life I’ve been drawn to for most of my life.
I still think about the game of golf once in a while and how much I use to enjoy playing with my dad and my brother. We have a country club here on Vashon Island about three miles from the monastery which we drive by whenever going to town to get our mail. As much as I enjoy seeing people playing golf, I could not imagine a life happier or more fulfilling than the one I am living.
My grandfather and father are both long gone and the lakeside home is no longer owned by our family but the joy I felt during those solitary moments with God on that dock forty nine years ago are still with me today.