When a potential postulant enters a monastery, she is shown the boundaries within which she's to live. These have already been defined; she does not have to bring her own bricks and mortar and build them herself.
As a Catholic Christian, I also have boundaries. I do not have to map them out; they are clearly provided for me in Scripture and in 2,000 years of authentic Church discernment.
I know I've been repeating myself on this point. Probably I'm beginning to sound like a cloistered parrot, mimicking my own words over and over. But this is something the culture around does not tell us. We won't switch on television and hear it; in fact, often we'll be shown its very opposite.
In order to recognize the walls of God's truth and thus be able to live within their protection, we must be able to see them. This seeing is not always easy, especially when the "walls" are viewed against a backdrop of cultural norms.
There is goodness outside the walls as well as within, and we can participate in the goodness. Still, we must learn to discern where the walls within are rising up to warn us: "this is good, but not that."
God's intention is not to wall us off from people. His intention is to protect us (and them) from temporal and eternal harm.
Life inside the walls of a monastery is counter-cultural. If we live inside the boundaries of God's revealed will, our lives are often counter-cultural as well.
"Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you." (Matthew 5:44)
"Blest shall you be when men hate you, when they ostracize you and insult you and proscribe your name as evil because of the Son of Man. On the day they do so, rejoice and exult, for your reward shall be great in heaven." (Luke 6:22-23)
"Whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)
"We demolish sophistries and every proud pretension that raises itself against the knowledge of God; we likewise bring every thought into captivity to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)
"Be on guard lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkeness and worldly cares." (Luke 21:34)
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:20)
"Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." (James 1:2)
"Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)
Photos on this post Nancy Shuman
Test not in quotes
To look further inside our 'walls,' click here