Spiritual Places · Uncategorized

The Benedictines and Me

One of my favorite Christian authors, Kathleen Norris, became a Benedictine oblate and immersed herself for a time in the liturgical world.  I love her reflection on that life in The Cloister Walk (Riverhead Books) for its meditative tone and sharing of spiritual experiences that inform my own walk.

I’m not becoming an oblate, but I am going to the monastery on New Year’s Eve for a couple of days.  The Erie (PA) Benedictines offer small cottages (“hermitages”) located in the woods near the monastery for folks who want a secluded time away.  A Catholic friend and I once shared a weekend there, together and apart, listening to God.  We spent time in prayer in a beautiful chapel and joined the Sisters for meals and Mass.  (Like I said, they welcome anyone of any faith!)

Mount S. Benedict Hermitage
Mount St. Benedict hermitage

The issue of “having time” is not on the radar.  This is a priority.  No major crises–my kids are great, so is my family, I am pursuing new opportunities in my teaching and writing career.   But I’ve run into roadblocks that are making me reconsider my “little life.”  You’d think by now, at my age, that I’d know what I want to be and do when I grow up.  Well, I do, kinda.  So what about these obstacles?  There’s the rub.

And for all of the surface “obstacles,” I suspect the real ones are within me.

So, I am going to meet with God in a spiritual place.  He can get around, or walk through, any obstacle, including mine.  I trust him for that.  So can you.

4 thoughts on “The Benedictines and Me

  1. The wine cellar image comes from St. John of the Cross; the interior castle from St. Teresa of Avila.

  2. Hi Nancy, Thanks for your encouragement. I love the wine cellar image. I pray that you also find what you’re looking for during this holiday season.

  3. I’m so happy for you that you will spend time in a place apart from the ordinary—a hermitage. I’ve never experienced that degree of seclusion, but it sounds wonderful—something I would love to do. Perhaps while you are there you will find the divine center that Merton talks about—an encounter with God beyond speech, words and concepts. Robert Barron, in his book Catholicism, says that “to pray contemplatively is to find the place at the very bottom of one’s being, the point vierge, the interior castle, the inner wine cellar where God’s life and love are sustaining you in existence.” I pray for you that this experience in the hermitage will be all that you hope for, that you will encounter the divine center, and that when you return to your “little life,” you will find it shining.

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