What is a Monk Drum anyways?
Several families, including my own, moved from the suburbs of El Paso, TX to the outskirts town of Chaparral, New Mexico in 2003. We wanted to live differently. We wanted to live a life of contemplation, prayer and service to the people around us. We didn’t know much about these things (and still don’t), but we have now been on the journey for 10 years or so. We’ve built a workshop, more housing, a dorm, and a chapel made of straw bales. Two of my kids were born into the community, and the other two have spent over half of their life here. The same with the other families. This weird life of communal living is “normal” for them, and I have to say, its become a new, “better” normal for me too. I guess you could say we’ve become “ruined”, unable to go back. We’re unfit for the old normal, because the new life we’ve found in the desert has changed us forever.
Along the way, we’ve met some incredible people. Almost every week in fact. It turns out there are lots of people tired of “regular life” where you work to make money, to buy stuff, so you can have stuff, which takes more money, so you work to make money, so you can buy more stuff, etc… We wanted to try a different type of life, where we live simpler, need less, go slower, and have more time for the people you meet on the way. To us, its began to be known as just “loving people one at a time.” We’re tying to become “people” focused instead of “stuff” focused.
We just try to love people.
We’ve met all kinds and our goal is to love all the kinds who come. Many people we’ve met, end up staying with us for a night, a day, a week, or a season in our dorms. They often need a chance to rethink life, heal from hurts, escape the fast life, or just sit around a porch and look at the stars with some friends. This has been awesome for us and them. But since many of us have jobs that take us off the community grounds during the week, it’s challenging to juggle the practical responsibilities of guests with the demands of off-grounds jobs.
Monk Drums is a step toward reconciling those areas. Jacob, our lead drummer-monk-craftsman, has been crafting instruments for several years and playing them for decades. He and his sons are gifted musicians and artists, from a family of gifted musicians and artists, and who are friends with even more gifted musicians and artists. Jacob is also gifted at mentoring young men and women on their journey of “second chances”. He’s always had someone sleeping on his couch, or on his floor, of in a spare bedroom. Many of these folks his family has taken in just needed someone to believe in them and give them a chance. Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen beautiful healing happen when someone is just willing to extend a helping hand. Monk drums is an attempt at blending a craft of creating beautiful instruments with the beautiful gift of “second chances” for the people we meet in our communal-living journey. By having a workshop with regular work “worth doing”, more of us can be available during the weekdays for the next season of people who need someone to talk to. And perhaps those in need, can earn a few extra dollars or some room & board from some simple workshop tasks. Most importantly they can have someone there for them when they are ready to have someone listen to their story.
Because along the way, there are many beautiful “unscheduled” stories that come up when you are working with someone and just have the time to listen. These conversations can’t be scheduled or planned, they just happen. But we can make room for them, by making a place for them. That’s one of our hopes for Monk Drums. We want it to be a place where simple conversations over cleaning a workshop floor, or applying the finish to a drum can start someone on their second-chance. They can know that someone cares about them, and the conversation won’t have to be rushed. Over pushing a broom, or sanding some wood panels, life can begin to beat within a wounded heart again. Like a drum? Maybe.
And then finally, those people who buy a drum, won’t just be buying an instrument. They are participating in love too. It’s an eternal song. A drum of second chances. A drum song beating with the life beat of someone’s story mingled with our own. Now that’s a journey worth taking.
Feel free to read more about the community at www.theruined.com.
May peace be with you from the Desert Rain Community, and the drummer-monk-craftsmen.
– Greg Steele