Friday, April 17, 2020


A good friend of the Abbey wrote us recently asking for advice during these days of isolation. She asked: "I’m wondering how you all make peaceful use of the time in silence. It seems it can torture or nurture. How do you direct that sail? Is there way of praying that diffuses that anxiety? I hope you don’t mind me asking you this. Without all of the distractions I put in place, I’m realizing, there is a lot of existential energy looking for a home…" 

She put it so succinctly - so much existential energy seeking a home. One of our older monks replied as follows: "The key, I think, is a foolhardy confidence, insistently clung to, that you are the well-beloved one of Christ Jesus, that nothing whatever can change that truth; that he is with us, on our side, understands us, longs to console us, always. This our only solid place of confidence, rest and peace.

Our monk continued: "Recently as I began to pray, I realized that I didn't even know what I was doing, that often I don't even want to be there - that I want to distract myself. Sobering. Embarrassing. So then I prayed, 'Please draw me into your silence, Lord Jesus. I am helpless without you.' A new peace came. For in even the faintest desire to pray, it is the Lord who is making the first move; he wants it more than we do. Helplessness is the best thing. Perhaps this will be useful. With my blessings for continued safety and health for you and your family...."    

She responded: "When we reach out to either side and feel abyss! The blank canvas is such a humbling invitation. What to do with it? Your modesty and openness give me courage. I found myself praying a few mornings ago and thought - the Unmoved Mover, who created from nothing. Dare I ask for anything? I stopped and thought what am I doing? How small, and smaller still we are. It shocked me into silence. Thank you for sharing your experience with me more than I can say. I think that communion is graced, and thank God for you and for it. Keeping in grateful prayer with you and all who long for Christ..."

Our monk's final thought to our friend: "You kindly call it 'modesty.' No, only the "hard truth" tempered by his grace."

Photograph by Brother Brian.