A few weeks ago, I went back to the monastic community that I visited last year. It was just as peaceful and restorative, if not more so, since I stayed longer this time.

I volunteered in the garden again. This year, I picked strawberries and did lots of weeding in herb and garlic beds.

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I was placed in one of the “hermitages” this year. It was so sweet! There is a cluster of 8 hermitages about a 10-minute walk from the farmhouse, where the chapel, dining area, and additional accommodations are located.  I had my own bathroom and mini-kitchen.

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I really got into the rhythm of the day:

Wake up around 8:00, make breakfast, listen to the birds sing.

Work in the garden for a couple of hours.

Have lunch with the brothers and guests.

Do a little more garden work. Visit with the pigs, ducks, geese, and chickens.

Collapse in my hermitage (from the heat).

Clean up and read until the even song service.

Attend even song and have dinner afterward.

Sit in one of the sitting rooms and read a book from the library until compline, the final service of the day.

Attend compline and watch the sunset afterward.

Return to my hermitage and read before going to sleep.

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Such a profound joy is found in this simple life. I longed to stay for a few more days. Now the trick is to figure out how to make time for such quiet reflection amid the myriad distractions of everyday living. I’m working on it.

I found it so refreshing to be “offline” for a few days. To think about nothing but pulling the next weed or watching the gaggle of geese waddle through the garden. To get perspective on my life.

So I was shocked when I read this news the other day. In a recent study, researchers found that participants who sat in a room for 10 minutes with “just their thoughts” were very uncomfortable, and some of them even shocked themselves for something to do!

Wow. I think we could all use some more silence and “offline” time these days. I challenge you to carve out some quiet time for yourself every week. And enjoy the silence!