At age 25, Katherine Jenkins was searching for inner peace and a sense of purpose. That search led her, on a bit of a whim, to South Korea where she was hired to teach English. Nothing was quite as she anticipated. At first, even the art of meditation seemed impossibly out of reach.
Ms. Jenkins shares her spiritual journey — from meeting a bowling monk to a mysterious photo to learning to listen to the inner voice we each possess — in her book, Lessons from the Monk I Married.
I just never expected my search for peace would lead me to a bowling alley. Nor did I expect my first experience with a Buddhist monk to involve putting on tacky shoes and comparing ball sizes. No — I expected we’d spend the afternoon watching monks chanting and doing prostrations to the steady beat of a moktak, a wooden percussion instrument used in Korean Buddhist ceremonies. Or maybe we’d attend a tea ceremony, sitting for hours on our knees in silence. Or may I’d even finally learn how to meditate.
Yet here we were, following Su Nim through the narrow streets downtown to a bowling alley. Along the way, I started worrying. Is there a certain etiquette I should follow when bowling with a monk? I wondered. No, that’s ridiculous. How could there be an etiquette? Who goes bowling with a monk, anyway?
After her first attempts to fast forward her spiritual quest, Jenkins learns to trust that her thirst for answers will be quenched in its own time.
“If the time is right, we’ll meet the people we’re supposed to meet.”
And with those words, I realized something that took my breath away: All of my searching had led me here. All those days in the health club, thumbing through book after book on Buddhism and meditation — those days had a purpose. The lifeguard who first got me thinking about Korea; that night with Mike, when I first learned of the teaching opportunity — they were not just coincidence. All along my journey, my intentions had been connecting me to the right people and the right places. My sincere wish to meet a monk on my journey to Songgwang Temple hadn’t gone unheard; I had met a monk from the temple. (Albeit, he loved to bowl, had a funky patchwork vest, and liked to read books by Osho, but he was a monk, nonetheless.)
Though little had unfolded as I expected it to, these were not random events in a chaotic universe. For the first time in my life, I was aware that my intentions were creating my connections. And that I was right where I needed to be.
Whatever our spiritual longings, we are each tasked with finding our own answers. Still, there is much we can gain from another’s path, and Lessons from the Monk I Married is filled with insight. The author manages to share her personal story of growth without hitting the reader over the head with “lessons.” It’s an enjoyable read and I give it a hearty recommendation.