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Monk in the World guest post: Anneclaire LeRoyer

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from Anneclaire LeRoyer (you can read the call for submissions here). She has been involved in the Abbey for several years and even joined us for our Vienna pilgrimage last year.  Read on for Anneclaire’s wisdom:

A Monk and Artist in the World

I am an aspiring monk and artist and I am on the best possible of adventures. There’s always room to grow! I am blessed to be part of Abbey of the Arts. For several years now I have gratefully drunk in the teachings offered here and have felt lifted up in my essential being.

Thomas Keating writes in Open Mind, Open Heart “The fathers of the Church had a fondness for this particular verse: ‘O that his left hand were under my head and that his right hand embraced me’ (Song of Solomon 2:6). According to their interpretation … with the left he humbles and corrects us; with the right He lifts us up and consoles us… If you want to be fully embraced by the Lord, you have to accept both arms. When … struggles are persecuting you, you should think that God is hugging you extra tightly. Trials are an expression of His Love …”

I experienced both physical and verbal abuse as a child and left home in my teens with no job skills and no social communication skills – we didn’t communicate in our home – everything was swept under the rug. I had so much repressed inside.

But a constant in my life is my search to deepen my relationship with God, to discover whom I really am and what I am called to do.

I now live back in Quebec, a poor province with few job opportunities especially if you are not fluently French speaking, which I am not. I am here because I cared for my parents during their end of life journeys, leaving my job with good salary, security, benefits, pension, etc., etc. That job that meant nothing to me. It was the request of my Mother to come home, and it is sure, there was much unfinished in our relationship.

Fortunately in my years in Toronto I had gone through much healing, because it took everything I had to journey for years with my parents through dementia. Of course, I did not do this alone, they were eventually placed, and other caregivers helped me. But I felt the rest of my family, while being happy my parents were not abandoned, did not really understand.

As things became more difficult and draining, there were several things that supported me. The digital journal I worked in each morning has included material from Christine’s courses and other inspirational gleanings: quotes, poems, images, music, as well as my own efforts. When I look back at the time around my mother’s death, the beauty of the entries startles me. My mother became more and more pure love, and I felt so at peace being with her. My relationship with my father healed. We became friends. It was an hours’ walk to my parents’ residence along the Lake, and I walked whenever I could. My photography was always a joy although finally there was no time for that. And contemplative prayer continued its process of healing and teaching me.

My appreciation for nature, love of photography, enjoyment writing poetry, artistic inclinations, and monk aspirations certainly received strong support when I discovered Christine and “Abbey of the Arts.”

I lost my Mom November 2011, and my Dad, January last year.

Today I start the day at 3:30 a.m. lighting a candle and saying a prayer for that day. It usually includes my parents! I begin my journal, but stop at 4:20 a.m. to say Vigils (the time the Cistercian monks in Rougemount, Quebec, chant them — I go on retreat there), and later read Lauds, Vespers and Compline. Brother David Steindl-Rast in The Music of Silence opens my eyes to the richness and deeply life-giving quality of the Monastic Hours — and of nature as well! Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, and spiritual reading are also part of my practice.

When weather permits, I like to be out an hour before sunrise walking along the confluence of two rivers — the St. Lawrence and Ottawa — also known as Lac St-Louis at its widest point, and spend several hours photographing. I am out at a magic time of day, open and observant, and get my exercise as well.

If you are new to the Abbey of the Arts, I am glad you have found your way here. There is much to nourish your deepest self in terms of the wonderful material offered, but also this is a genuinely supporting community. Something that is rare and precious in my experience. Welcome!

anneclaire leroyer 3


anneclaire leroyer 4

anneclaire leroyerBorn in Ottawa, Ontario, grew up in Toronto, and moved to Montreal in 1967. Had applied to McGill University’s Music Department, but instead left home and returned to the Toronto area. While by day I worked to survive in office jobs, I was a seeker in the evenings. I took and taught Taoist T’ai Chi for 17 years, finally at Toronto’s Metro Central YMCA, and was part of the Gurdjieff “Work” under Louise Welch in New York. I returned home twenty years later, graduated with honors in a graphic design program, but gradually cared for my parents more and more. Now that my parents are in far better hands than mine, the aspiring monk, artist and musician within have opportunities to emerge.

Click here to read all the guest posts in the Monk in the World series>>

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47 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing all of this with us, Anneclaire. I feel blessed to have gotten to know you on the Vienna pilgrimage last year.

  2. Anneclaire’s story is beautiful and at this moment gives me the inspiration and hope to carry on with anticipation and expectation. I thank our loving God for this lady


    1. Thank you for your kind words, Tom! God is so generous. We cannot see the way ahead, but if we trust, somehow He makes it all work out. Blessings to you! Anneclaire

  3. Anneclaire,
    Thank you so much for sharing your faith journey with us. We (I) so need role models in our lives to mentor us along the way. God has blessed me with two wonderful women friends who have suffered abuse in their early years and each time I hear a “new” story it helps me better to understand and be with them. We need to hear these things and how one survives. I also am a Spiritual Director and Supervisor in a training program and your story broadens my experience to be with others. Just reading this morning’s Henri Nowen’s Meditation ending with “forgiveness heals us.” Thank God. Continuing healing blessings to you my friend and thank you again for the courage to share your story. Beautifully powerful as are your pictures. Loving you. Kay

    1. Thank you, Kay! There is an important part of my story that I should share with you. Before I returned to my parent’s home (where I could only stay a short while because I was not able to endure the stress in the home – I moved near by) I had a very strong conversion experience, and began attending Mass each day. It was after that I was open to my mother’s request. God works powerfully in those who turn to Him. I will be starting the Spiritual Exercises again this coming week. After that I hope to go into a formation process for spiritual directors. Thank you for you kind words and sending love back! Anneclaire

  4. I read with great interest Anneclaire in your description of your care of your parents in their final years and how special that time was. I relate because of similar almost spiritual experiences I had when my young 21 year old son was dying of cancer and we had him here at home with the help of hospice.


    1. Betty, that is so hard! Yes, it is awesome the blessings God provides in every situation, but it is difficult to lose those we love and are nurturing who are ‘called home’ when it seems their life here should just be beginning. You have great courage. May God continue to bless you abundantly.

  5. Anneclaire I am so thrilled to read your post, see your lovely face, and your absolutely beautiful photos here!! I so enjoyed spending time with you in Vienna. Thank you for sharing yourself and your photography here. Virtual hugs and blessings from your fellow monk in Seattle.
    Love, Sharon

    1. Sharon, it is good to hear from you! Virtual hugs and blessings gratefully received (visualizing a warm hug is especially lovely for someone in COLD Montreal) and joyfully returned!
      Love, Anneclaire

  6. There is sorrow and beauty in your words and photographs. Your soul is graced with a deep and profound wisdom and I am touched by your presence that flows through your story. I relate only too well to the day I found Christine and her on-line website. She has been a trustworthy friend and guide ever since.
    I feel that I have a kindred spirit “out there” and my heart is grateful.
    Thank you and may you be blessed with abiding peace in this new year.

    1. Thank you, Claudia, for your gracious response, and your blessing! We are so fortunate we have Christine and Abbey of the Arts; that we have this space of learning, sharing and mutual support.

  7. Thank you, Anneclaire, for your sharing, and above all for those exquisite
    photographs. The sky in the second one captured, for me, the essence of
    the dawning of the day.

  8. Anneclaire, your life is a beautiful bell ringing for us all. Thank you for sharing so openly and deeply your ongoing story. I found much to inspire in reading your post and your photographs are exquisite!

  9. Thank you, Anneclaire, for your beautiful sharing of your life story and your photography. Having found your voice is a gift for you and for us.