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Category: Lent Easter


A Different Kind of Fast: Part Seven – Embrace Mystery

Dearest monks and artists, Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for an unknown God. — from Amiel’s Journal, translated by Mrs. Humphrey Ward John Cassian, one of the ancient desert fathers, describes three renunciations he says are required of all of us on the spiritual journey. The

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A Different Kind of Fast: Part Six – Embrace Organic Unfolding

Dearest monks and artists, It was said of Abba Agathon that for three years he lived with a stone in his mouth, until he had learnt to keep silence. (Agathon 15) The silence of the desert elders is called hesychia, which means stillness, silence, inner quiet. However, it is much deeper than just an external quiet. A person can live alone and still experience much noise within and a person can live in the midst of a crowd and have a true sense of stillness in their heart. There is always a shadow side to silence—the kind of silence that keeps hidden

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A Different Kind of Fast: Part Five – Embrace Attention

Dearest monks and artists, It can be so tempting to think, that in our busy lives multitasking will somehow make us more efficient and productive. We bemoan not having more hours in the day, but the hours we do have our attention is scattered, always trying to keep up. We spread our gaze between so many demands that we may get many things done, but none of it is nourishing. St. Benedict wisely wrote 1500 years ago, that we are called to always be beginners in the spiritual life. The desert is a place of new beginnings; it is where Jesus began

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A Different Kind of Fast: Part Four – Embrace Slowness

Dearest monks and artists, Modern life seems to move at full speed and many of us can hardly catch our breath between the demands of earning a living, nurturing family and friendships, and the hundreds of small daily details like paying our bills, cleaning, grocery shopping. More and more we feel stretched thin by commitments and lament our busyness, but without a clear sense of the alternative. There is no space left to consider other options and the idea of heading off on a retreat to ponder new possibilities may be beyond our reach. But there are opportunities for breathing

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A Different Kind of Fast: Part Three – Embrace Trust

Dearest monks and artists, My word for this year is surplus. It is a word which has been working on me for some time now. A couple of summers ago I was pondering how to make the work I love so much sustainable both energetically and financially. Even with work that arises out of passion, we bump up against our limits of what we can give and how much renewal we need. As a contemplative and a strong introvert, my needs for quiet times are high and I am grateful for our seasonal rhythms which allow for extended times of restoration. But

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A Different Kind of Fast: Part Two – Embrace Vulnerability

Dearest monks and artists, In 2003 my mother became seriously ill quite suddenly and died a few days later in the ICU. I was only 33 at the time, she was my second parent to die and I had no siblings. I was left with a profound aloneness, even with my beloved husband’s faithful companionship. I coped at first in the way that had always served me well. By being strong and holding everything together, keeping busy when I could so that I could distract myself from the tremendous grief. Western culture rewards us greatly for being able to pull

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A Different Kind of Fast – Ash Wednesday Blessings & Lenten Resources

Dearest monks and artists, I wanted to share with you some reflections as we begin the holy season of Lent as well as some resources to support your journey. This week we enter the long desert of the Lenten season. If you participate in a liturgical service, most likely you will be marked with the sign of ashes and the words “from dust you came and to dust you shall return” will echo through the sanctuary space again and again. St. Benedict writes in his Rule to “keep death daily before your eyes” and Amma Sarah, one of the desert mothers said, “I

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