Saturday, September 2, 2023


     Now that I am living in this new place, in relationship with this new monastery, I am beginning to see myself and my own solitary monastic vocation in a new light. I am in a country that values hermits. It is a striking change from my native U.S., where "loners" are generally viewed with suspicion, as sick, maladjusted, and probably dangerous misfits. Here, I am welcomed, appreciated. My imposter syndrome is fading away. The old ladies in the village are pleased to have me here. And the monks, whose community life I admire so deeply, seem to feel the same about me and my solitary life. 

    I think I could not live in community as they do, as much as I admire the way they care for and support each other. I'm very tempted by the green, green grass on that side of the fence (or rather, the cloister wall)! But I am a wild-sister, I bloom in a hidden hollow, I think the careful tending in a garden would suffocate me. I need quiet, and lots of it. I need privacy, to live unmasked, free to talk to myself out loud, sing and dance if I feel like it, go braless, cuss out my computer. I think the constant presence of others sharing my home space would wear me out very quickly. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

On Solitude and Loneliness

    It's been almost 5 months now since I moved into my new village hermitage in Burgundy, France, near my new Benedictine monastery, the Abbey of La Pierre Qui Vire. I'm starting to settle in, and take stock of how different my eremitic life is shaping up to be here, as opposed to the way I lived back in Maryland. I'm beginning to make friends at the monastery, and the people in the village are friendly but reserved, the perfect balance for a new hermit in town.

    I'll tell you what, though: the first few months were tough. This is why it's been so long since I posted ... I've been struggling! I cried a lot. I'd never been so lonely in the first four years as a hermit! In all of last year, living in Spain, I never made any friends and I spent much more time alone, but I wasn't lonely like this. But I think it's like when you get absorbed in something and forget to eat, but you don't feel hungry until you smell dinner cooking, and all of a sudden you're ravenous. There were no monasteries near me in Spain, no obvious ready-made community that I wanted to connect with. The loneliness hit once I settled next to this monastery here in France, thinking "these are my people!", and then coming up against ... the cloister wall. I was just ravenous for connection, and could not find a way to connect. It was excruciating.

Monday, May 8, 2023


    It's been a while since I posted here, almost two months. I've moved into a new home, again. This time, I hope and expect to stay put for a good long while. "Stability" is one of the vows that Benedictine monastics take, and it's a quality I've sorely missed since I decided to move from the USA to Europe. Now I am again in a place where I hope to settle and re-focus on what is most important to me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Stop Resisting Temptation

     How's Lent going for you? Did you give something up? (If you don't do Lent, think about your last New Year's resolutions, and if you don't do those, either, the last time you resolved to change a habit.) How hard is it? How challenging of a resolution did you choose? How are you doing at resisting temptation

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Original Sin

     Today is the first Sunday of Lent. As is becoming my usual practice, attending Mass in a language that mostly goes over my head, I spent the homily in my own meditation on the Scripture readings. This time, just the first reading, which is Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7. The first sin, the sin of Adam and Eve in partaking of the only fruit that had been forbidden to them in the whole Garden of Eden: the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The sin is disobedience, or presumption, or trying to usurp God's place and be (as the serpent said) "like gods." 

    But why does God forbid them to eat of that fruit? I mean, leaving aside the question of why God would plant that tree there, right in the center of the garden, why wave temptation in their faces and then forbid them to touch it. Leaving that aside, why would God not want them to have the knowledge of good and evil? It seems so baffling, so counter-intuitive. Isn't that basic human formation, what parents try to teach their children and religious leaders their congregations? What is this allegory really all about?

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Hungry Month

     Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. What are you giving up for Lent? Maybe that's the wrong question. Why are you giving up anything for Lent? What's it all about? 

    This might be a somewhat unconventional answer, but it's the one that occurred to me this morning as I was, once again, zoning out on a homily delivered in a language I don't yet understand very well. What will happen when I get more fluent in French? Gee, I might have to deliberately take time to meditate on the Scriptures ... would that be a terrible thing? Probably not. Meanwhile.... 

    What I was thinking about was how back in the old days, before supermarkets, refrigeration, or pressure canning, there wasn't really very much choice about whether or not to fast toward the end of winter.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

It's not about being a doormat

    Hello, readers ... I'm back! I know, I haven't posted for a month and a half, since Epiphany. Well, in that time, I moved from Spain to France, and am still very far from settled in here. And I have a big, wide, deep blog post in progress, which will be out soon, I promise. But in the meantime, I was struck by something during Mass today, as I was zoning out on only halfway understanding the homily (because I only halfway understand French!). So I thought I'd sketch the idea out here without over-complicating it, so it can come out today, since it's related to today's Mass readings.