A final update from the Hermitage.
You don't know me. I have only begun here, having discovered your substack from someone else. I can relate. to your situation, though. I wanted very much to be a Benedictine nun devoted to the Divine Office, ora et labora, and contemplation. But that was not what God intended. He had a job for me in the world. I was to proclaim the glory of God as revealed in Creation.
This meant I was to be something of a public figure. I have struggled with pride and human respect and finding time for prayer. It has afforded me many opportunities for humiliation and rejection and even sometimes persecution, and a clear sense of my own need for Christ. He has been very good to me, and accomplished His purposes despite my weakness.
I look back on my life from the age of 70. Given my experience, I want to say to all Christians, especially to those still seeking: give yourself to Christ without reservation, you can absolutely trust him to guide you and give you what you need. He will fulfill his purpose for your life, often to your amazement, because you may not see it coming.
Whatever path God has for you, I pray you will be able to keep the stillness and inner peace of the monastery, and a deep love for God and his people. Lean on Christ. His power is made perfect in weakness. Trust.
Jack, can only imagine the emotions behind writing this final post from the Hermitage. Having had the good fortune to have followed you over this year, it has been telling how your voice, through your work ,has become stronger and more resonant. You have been changed by this experience and it has been a blessing.
Thank you for the courage to share and to show your workings out this year. I’m at the start of my journey and your posts have meant a lot to me. I’m still edging towards finding my voice, unlearning the vocabulary that work and life to date gave me, but finally know what it means to walk with an open heart, rather than leading with my chin…
Courage for descending from the mountain, you carry the quietness and solitude within you, the background noise and bustle of the quotidian life can serve as the backdrop to the next chapter, the next thread in the tapestry that you’re weaving; the hubbub won’t drown out your spirit. And like you, I can see the orbit of related substacks gaining momentum. Looking forward to the podcasts and seeing your future contributions.
If you do decide to come over to the UK/ Ireland to visit your brother or to share a stage with Paul K, I’d be happy to offer hospitality and a bottle or two, for the price of a heartfelt conversation around the kitchen table.
Thanks for sharing your insights here Jack. I look forward to following you future progress and podcasts. If you come to Cape Cod you're always welcome to visit us. It would be a good experience of "letting go" because we function quite joyfully on the verge of chaos and disorder but with lots of humor and beauty. Ususally.
Interesting how your post intersects with Peco's. If we seek the small, the uncelebrated obedience then God will have His way with us. I think this bit you wrote is true for me, too: "Over the past year, my view of the future has become darker, but my hope in what lies open for us has also grown commensurately, if not even more so. In short, the realities we will necessarily have to face are unlikely to be ones of our choosing. But the good news is that we can face them with great joy, confidence, and freedom. We aren’t helpless."
Oh, don't worry about progress being slow. It always seems slow until the moment God steps in and transforms you. He is the one who has to do it. We can't do it by ourselves. He saves us, we don't save ourselves.
Thanks for this update, and for your abundant soul-honesty about everything. I can’t believe that a year has passed on your substack. It feels like a long and steady meditation when I reflect back on it.
I hope you find a good place to situate yourself, especially one where there is space for real quiet, where the air doesn’t smell of fumes or fabric softener, where the wifi (and coffee) is decent, and where there are physical people to connect with (not that us digital beings are so bad).
In all seriousness, thank you again. Have you thought of writing a book about your journeys between the stillness and thunder of civilization? You’ve certainly got a better sense of the contrast than most of us.
Great stuff, Jack.
If your view of the world has become darker in the past year, it is because you are able to see things clearer. It ain't no joke out here. But you took a great leap a year ago to put 'fuga mundi' into practice, and actually experienced what it is like to live in silence and contemplation. I am sure what you have learned in the past year will keep you in good stead as you navigate this curious time we find ourselves in. I am glad you are continuing on with your work here; it has both enlightened me and encouraged me on my own poor path. All the best.
Informed and blest by you. Such honesty .I look forward to following your postings good bye...did not know until recently the original meaning was God go with you.
I'm new to this particular Substack, having for the last year or more appreciated your comments over at the Abbey of Misrule. Much that you say here has resonance. Journey on, fellow pilgrim.
'The greatest stillness is the stillness found in movement.' (Taoist Classics).
I have a feeling there will also be a 'refuge of the road', for you. Greenest prayers for you from the woods of North Carolina as I head down to Georgia today. Go well, Jack. I look forward to hearing more from your journey.
Go well Jack
We can only ever see what presents itself. The question of course is are we looking?
May God grant you open eyes, and the Knowledge of Silence
I look forward to where you travel to next, physically and spiritually.
I’ve been rereading Way of the Pilgrim. Something about that kind of experience has an incredible pull on me, though it seems unrealistic in contemporary America. Maybe some highly modified version for you over the next little bit…
If you go through New Mexico, I highly recommend Holy Archangel Michael Monastery for a few days stay. The brothers there are truly dead to the world, and Abbot Silouan has something of the ancients living in his soul.
God guide you, Jack!
May our Good God journey with you and watch over you in whatever comes next! Looking forward to coming along for the ride.
“Completely have trust in God, leave everything in His hands, and believe that His love will act for your own benefit. Then God will take care of everything, because there is nothing He cannot do; everything is easy for Him. The difficult thing is for man to decide to humble himself and leave everything to God’s providence and love.”
St. Paisios of Mount Athos
It's been a joy and very interesting to read your writings during the past year. Many blessings in your next steps. I pray you keep connected with us here at your Substack and your comments over at the Misrule Abbey.
Best wishes for a smooth reentry into the life of the world.
Returning from shorter times away from the hubbub, I found myself trying to hang on to the peace and serenity I felt on retreat. I never could. And those several days of trying were quite painful at times. It was suggested by a friend that when I noticed the serenity slipping away, let it go with the words “bye bye serenity.”
I still hated to lose it. But a little always remained in the darkness. Those words were a contribution that helped me slide back into my life less painfully. I pass them on in the off chance that they might be helpful.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and making a monastic moment available or here!
Dear Jack, I can most certainly recognize myself in your journey. The biggest obstacle in my own life has been to get to know myself and adapt my life to that so that I will recover from all of my health issues. I can feel too that my journey in a way is coming to an end. Well not entirely because I know deep inside that there are still lessons to be taught but I know that the big picture seems clear to me. However one important lesson that still remains is that I need to fully acknowledge my own destiny.
We are often warned not to attempt to judge our own "progress" because that's one of the ways the demons actually get to us - either through despair at our seeming lack of progress, or through pride at feeling chuffed at how far along we are. I pray you find the right way going forward.