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Silence and Solitude 1: A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dear pilgrims, monks, and artists,

During this Jubilee year of sabbatical we are revisiting our Monk Manifesto by moving slowly through the Monk in the World retreat materials together every Sunday. Each week will offer new reflections on the theme and every six weeks will introduce a new principle.

“Silence is never merely the cessation of words . . . Rather it is the pause that holds together-indeed, it makes sense of-all the words, both spoken and unspoken. Silence is the glue that connects our attitudes and our actions. Silence is the fullness, not emptiness; it is not absence, but the awareness of a presence.”

-John Chryssavgis, In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Each of us contains the seed of the monk within us. How does one live as a monk in the world? Don’t monks live cloistered away in monasteries?

We live in a time when there has been tremendous growth in the number of people becoming Oblates – lay members of monastic communities who live out the Benedictine way in the everyday world. There are communities of folks experimenting with “new monasticism” – ways of living out monastic spirituality inspired by St Benedict or Celtic traditions in the heart of urban spaces. Then there are others who are just longing for a more meaningful and heart-centered way of being in the world and who are looking to monasticism as a model of balance and depth.

One of the central hallmarks of the monk is a commitment to contemplative ways of being in a frenetic world. Instead of being carried away by the daily demands of modern living, the monk makes space for holy pauses and the silence which holds everything together. Contemplative moments are an act of resistance to a world that judges our value by our productivity and achievements rather than who we are.

With great and growing love,


Art by Kristin Noelle

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