Monastery Silence

The view from the Guest House

A few weeks ago, I went on retreat at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Northern New Mexico. Part of the Benedictine charism is hospitality, and guests are welcome. For all who come to stay, there is daily Mass, Gregorian chant, and communal meals with the monks.

I had a room to myself in the Guest House, which is some distance from the chapel and the main building. I had no computer and no cell phone coverage. Except for a few conversations with friends and an introduction to the monastery donkeys and sheep by Abbot Christian, most of my time was spent in silence.

God was there.


Pecan Grove at the Carmelite Monastery in Las Cruces, New Mexico

A few years ago, my husband and I bought a lot that included 33 mature pecan trees. When the pecans ripened in December, I experienced the wonder of gathering food that fell from above.  This was a new experience for me, since I had never lived on a farm or even planted a vegetable garden.  I didn’t mind bending and stooping to search through the dry leaves for the pecans, though I was sore for several days afterwards.  One tree in particular produced so many pecans that I thought I could live on them for a year.  I probably couldn’t have, but so it seemed at the time.  We eventually sold the lot, so I only experienced that one abundant harvest. I treasure the memory.

Now it is May, and the pecan trees at the Carmelite Monastery have just come into leaf. It will be seven months before this year’s crop is ready for harvest, but the promise is already here. The earth is full of the goodness of God.