St John's Q&A

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The silence was deafening

Well, last week was an unbelievably good week! I spent five days in silence with the Hermits of Bethlehem in New Jersey. When I arrived on Monday, I experienced some culture shock as I was shown my living quarters and briefed on the rules of the community. First, silence. Dead silence. The community is basically in the middle of nowhere...just woods. There is a main house and chapel, and then there are the hermitages.

My hermitage was two rooms, which included a bathroom. Tight quarters but doable. I was doing fine the first day; the first night was a different story. No one told me about the many little creatures who would share the place with me. I went to spend time with Jesus, and ended up hanging out with about 10 little spiders, too! Ooh, don't like spiders. The silence of the place at night was deafening. When I turned out my lights, it was completely dark. Black everywhere. I said goodnight to the little guys on the floor, and actually slept very well.

Then, there were the meals. Each hermit, including yours truly, took his/her Playmate cooler down to the kitchen and picked up each meal. We took our meals back to our respective hermitages, and ate there. The food wasn't too bad, but each meal felt a bit institutional. Part of the deal in their community. Wednesday was bread and water only, but they gave us enough bread to last a week!

I write all of this to lay out the physical environment, and the things that caused me a bit of shock. But, the overwhelming sense in this beautiful place is the tremendous sense of peace that is there. It is the presence of the Lord, and you feel it much more in the seclusion of a hermitage than in the noise of the world.

It was one of the hardest weeks I've ever had, but also one of the best. The spiritual fruits of the week were more lavishing than I anticipated, and will try to write about some of them in the coming days. I think it would be good to share some of the incredible gifts that Christ gave me last week, especially as I approach my Ordination to the Diaconate (Dec 17). It is powerful stuff!


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Site Counter
Free Web Counter