During the Middle Ages, there developed many interesting practices within the Church for those who desired to remove themselves from the hustle and temptations of “secular” life. Some individuals developed such a strong desire to flee the World that they literally bricked themselves into rooms in the back of local churches never to leave for any reason. By being physically anchored into the churches, these “anchorites” and “anchoresses” hoped to live their lives devoted to prayer and the Eucharist, to God and to others.
Some of these anchorites and anchoresses had but two small windows in their tiny rooms. One window would face the church altar, which would hold the Communion elements. The other window would face the outside world. Townspeople would go to these windows seeking spiritual advice and prayer. And I imagine that these outside-facing windows also provided a reminder of what was given up in order to join monastic life.
Let me go ahead and say that I wouldn’t necessarily advocate a similar practice within our culture today. However, I am still awed by the faithfulness of these men and women of God. I am awed by their sacrifice for the greater cause and the Kingdom of God.
So my hope today is not that we go lock ourselves into our own places of worship, but let us think about (with the words of John the Baptist in mind) how we can decrease and how God can increase in our own lives. How can my life be less about me and more about God? How can I decrease the “kingdom of me” and help grow the Kingdom of God?