Free Range Plain Clothes Nun

Guest blog by Elspeth R.

On my university halls door, I added to the general random scribbles with a startling statement: that here resided the free range plain clothes nun!

It was a surprising description for an evangelical nonconformist whose ilk was very much about going into the world and gathering with others to meet with God – perhaps quite noisily. Our only silence was between petitioners at prayer meetings; our nearest to quiet reflection was the personal prayer and Bible study we were exhorted to have each day. We disapproved of those who had taken the unbiblical step of withdrawing from the world and found their strange garb – which I now encountered personally for the first time – an anathema. I knew of free range from chicken descriptions, and I’d heard of plain clothes police patrolling shopping centres. But why nun? And why at 19 had I identified something hitherto unknown to me which I have remembered 30 years later?

Because the description was apt and prescient. As I suspect it is for others in Lauri’s circle – hence I’ve been invited to share this.

I’d quickly discovered that the life of an arts student was cloistered. We spent much of our day in solo self guided study with few points of our week in organised teaching. We lived in quadrangles of little rooms with communal areas, like monks and nuns. But I was surrounded by booming basslines and drunken squeals that went on past tierce, and those who did not keep to the early rising and regular habits of my moniker.

For the first time, I had a room of my own and the opportunity to plan much of my day. I took meals when and if they suited me – I was not summoned to a dining table or expected to do chores at a particular time. I was not forced into a pattern, even when I had a timetable. I was not watched over or necessarily missed, except by friends, and more distantly now, family.

I can see that I did fall into a pattern – partly about not having one – but the way I lived then has recurred. Unlike an unemployed friend, I didn’t trace the patterns of my carpet in boredom – I like filling my own day without outside demands. I did not like the jobs where I was told where to be, and even when to pee and have tea. I didn’t like the stipulations that my essay must be in Now (although I’m proud of keeping deadlines) and that book must be read by…thus taking the pleasure out of my reading. Worse still was when I couldn’t read a book which I wanted to because it wasn’t on the syllabus and my academic workload was such that I didn’t have time to deviate.

As I started to forge my adult self, away from home and the school church life I had hitherto known, I felt a sensation which has oft been part of my life: loneliness. My friends were less organised so whereas I made time for relaxation, especially keeping Sundays as a day of rest, they were scrabbling over seminar preparation, or rushing to see their long distance boyfriends. Thus they couldn’t come out for a drink, they claimed, or barely even study with me. I lived feet away from others, hundreds and thousands of people all working towards a common goal – our degree; and yet I often felt disconnected… a nun without a nunnery.

For my church also changed each year, and I scrunched to fit into the Christian Union on campus too.

There are many times of my life where I could describe it thus, and I’m feeling sad as I didn’t realise this as I sat down to write. Perhaps it’s no wonder that I saw affinity in Karen Armstrong’s Spiral Staircase, even during a time of non-nun life. She came to embrace her space, not as a nun – she tells us how she left that life in her first autobiography – but in her writing researching years after. She was also single for many of those years; and although she’s now well known (unlike me yet, and perhaps, you too?) it seems that having her output and gifts acknowledged by the world hasn’t really narrowed all that space.

It was a future I feared and couldn’t imagine myself reconciling to. The law of attraction proponents would say that I attracted to myself more of that which I didn’t want; the ‘realists’ would tell me to make peace with a Karen Armstrong life, or go and get a day job.

I reject both tenets and believe that there are other options, but I do feel more at peace with my life of studying, writing, creating, thinking. I feel that peace because through Lauri, I have met others who do this too.

As one who hates institutions (chain churches especially) and rules, and being deprived of important things (such as the cinema), who needs travel and variety, I cannot see how I will ever be an actual nun. I also know that loneliness and abuse and pettiness occur in those walls. But I was intrigued by a medieval Low Counties phenomenon which came to my city of Norwich. In a much photographed street (you may have seen Clare Danes run to the Slaughtered Prince in Stardust) is a three storey thatched building of c1500. Known today as the Briton’s Arms, its dragon beams allegedly once contained a community of this unusual type of nuns from Flanders. In French they’re beguines, in Dutch, begijns. Their homes are found in Leuven, Brussels and Amsterdam, but perhaps nowhere else in Britain. These were the free range plain clothes nuns of my undergraduate days: they didn’t take permanent vows and remained free to leave or marry. They didn’t wear a uniform.

Beguines seemed a wonderful way to remain an independent woman at a time where your choices were limited and your automony curtailed. I’d like to think that these were communities of companionship and deepening spirituality as well as service.

I was intrigued enough by these begijns/beguines to put one centrally in my first novel, Parallel Spirals, and gave her an imagined friendship with the other chief choice for a single woman: a courtesan. I decided that they may not be as diametrically opposed as they may seem: “‘Are all courtesans as soulless as nuns are passionless?'”

I found in York a group of Catholic women who are as close to living plain clothes free range nuns as I’ve yet discovered. Hiding behind a Georgian secular facade just beyond a city gate, I received a baked potato and a not entirely voluntary tour. By the latter, I mean that I was whisked up the stairs by Sister Agatha Leach, who was clearly not used to visitors saying no…although I kind of did! As she was about to launch into her spiel, I felt God say, “I’m going to bless you through this woman”. And he did. But then she offered to show me their infamous relic…and I felt it was time to leave.

Nun (or indeed monk) hood is not easy, especially when you’re existing outside of the chain and in a time where the monastic life is less prevalent. A modern contemplative can not feel valued or understood. But I think we’re needed – and we don’t need to take on vow which are really about institutional power rather than holiness and commitment to God.

At this time, I’m thinking about another kind of Norwich contemplative – Julian, whose special anniversary is coming up (I’m going to do a service on her on Sun May 7th, 8pm BST – you’re all invited – email me if you’d like to come live). I’m seeing her as the antithesis of my fictional beguine, or even those lively ladies of York. Julian’s vows were permanent and shocking, and utterly unnecessary.

I think that like those beguines, we can also be free to choose a different life; we’re not debarred from partners or families, or the things that give us joy. We don’t need to change our name. But I am seeing this as a calling and a service, and one that still is open for love of all kinds and fellowship and fun; and I know that I am not alone in having that calling, and I know others who find it valuable.

I do wonder if there is a nun or monk wound to heal too – and I am going to offer a special prayer for that; but that our healing can be in our acceptance and in finding and encouraging one another.

Choosing? Poverty?

an excerpt from Whispers from the Cave. Learn more HERE.

For my entire professional career, I have lived off less than $30,000 per year – most years closer to $25,000.  Back in 1987 when I graduated from college, a single person could live off of $25,000 per year, especially when rent (in the Midwest) for a really nice one-bedroom brownstone was around $350.00 per mo. Fast forward to 2023, and $26,000 is a little (A LOT!) harder to stretch to make ends meet. By some miracle of the universe, I have managed to do it, but I really don’t recommend trying this at home!

People could come up with all kinds of reasons for why I’ve NEVER made an income commensurate with my education or experience. Some might judge me as lazy, or not trying hard enough. Others have suggested I’m “ahead of my time.” Conditioning suggests there must be something wrong with me. Some think it’s simply a matter of me living in the wrong market where people aren’t yet ready for me. The reality is that the answer lies in none of the above. For the entirety of my professional career, I have worked my ass off, done everything the so-called experts say will guarantee my success, and if I thought any more “right thoughts” about money, I’d be wealthier than Mr. Musk.

I sure as hell don’t know why with 14 years of post-secondary education, a pile of certifications, and 30 years of experience, I’m still living far below the federal poverty level, I just know I am. I also know I’m NOT ALONE IN THIS! With a very few exceptions, nearly everyone I know that is called to a more contemplative, self-aware, perhaps creative lifestyle, struggles with money. Either they aren’t getting paid what they’re worth, they’re forced to work a job they hate, or, in my case, they can’t find a well-paying job for their life!

Case in point. In the several (many) times I’ve tried to go against my Soul’s calling to seek out and secure a “real job,” my efforts have blown up in my face. Rather, my efforts simply die a slow and painful (or quick and explosive) death.  Just this morning, after a night of sleeplessness, I got up for an interview I had scheduled with a local service organization (I gotta pay my rent!).  I got up at 6, took a shower, got dressed up, put on my makeup, had breakfast and coffee, completed my morning meditation. At 9 am I checked my email for a second time and the interviewer had emailed me to say the position had been filled.  I wasn’t sure if I should be frustrated and angry (you couldn’t have emailed me on Friday?????) or elated. Truth be told, I’m a little bit of both. I have to believe this was Divine Intervention, but now I’m all dressed up and have nowhere to go!

What happened this morning is the perfect summation of what happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I try to find a job that is other than what my heart knows I’m supposed to be (and am already) doing. EVERY SINGLE TIME. It doesn’t matter how many applications I submit, interviews I have, or promises that are made to me about certain opportunities, the results are always the same. Zilch. Nadda. Nothing.

Again, I’m not alone in this!  I cannot possibly count the number of (mostly) women I know who find themselves in a very similar, or even more desperate situation. It’s definitely NOT because any of us have chosen poverty or taken some worn out vow.  Neither is it some past-life karmic agreement or vow (well, maybe it is?). The fact remains, many of us doing “this” kind of work, committing ourselves to being of service to Love and living a somewhat-mostly contemplative life find ourselves on poverty’s door. Not because we chose it, but simply because it is. I don’t understand it. I don’t get it. It’s not fun. I don’t enjoy it. But it seems that no matter how hard I try or through what means, it is the fate I/we’ve been dealt. There’s really nothing else I can say or do but accept it……while desperately clinging to the words gifted to me by a dear friend today in response to the cancelled interview:

I KNOW YOU as a member of GOD’s army.

If it ain’t aligned it ain’t happening.

YOU are carrying precious cargo.

I absolutely believe this to be true!  Now if everyone else would just figure it out!  😊

Modern Monasticism and Contemplative Living

Whispers from the Cave features limited edition, exclusive content examining the daily life and reflections of a modern monk living in a “cave” surrounded by ghosts.

 • 4+ episodes per month (written and recorded)

• Exclusive content (not available anywhere else)

• Interactive discussion (bring your burning questions)

• Educational and Informative

• Inspiring and Supportive

• Special pricing for the first 100 subscribers


Below is an excerpt from a recent post in my Whispers from the Cave interactive web series. Learn more about Whispers from the Cave below.

I woke up to twelve inches of snow this morning with likely another twelve coming. None of the roads have been plowed.  Why should they bother when the snow keeps on coming?

I don’t need a reason or an excuse to stay home in the comfort of my cave, but this weather eases the conditioned and not-yet healed guilt that sometimes surfaces in the face of just staying home.

We’re conditioned to believe we have to leave the comfort of our home to be a contributing member of society.  Work.  Family.  Friends. Social activities. All stand out as pressure to comply.  We’re accused of being lazy or anti-social for simply wanting to be home.

Being called to contemplative/monastic living presents another option – a counter-cultural option. A big part of embracing this calling is all the work we must do around unconditioning. Coming to understand it’s ok to simply be.  There’s nothing we have to do (except that which springs forth from our hearts) and there’s nowhere we have to be.

We find support for this unconditioning through community – through others embracing a similar calling.  Without the benefit of community, we must find this conditioning on our own.  Part of this unconditioning comes in simply choosing what’s right for ourselves. When the voices of guilt, shame, or self-doubt com in, however, that is when we must return AGAIN to our practice.  Through our practice, we turn inward toward ourselves where we can heal and transform those conditioned voices. 

How and where have you found support in unconditioning?

What spiritual practices have you found helpful in your journey of unconditioning?

Whispers from the Cave

Whispers from the Cave features limited edition, exclusive content examining the daily life and reflections of a modern monk living in a “cave” surrounded by ghosts.

 • 4+ episodes per month (written and recorded)

• Exclusive content (not available anywhere else)

• Interactive discussion (bring your burning questions)

• Educational and Informative

• Inspiring and Supportive

• Special pricing for the first 100 subscribers

Grab your morning cup, your favorite blanket, and snuggle in as you prepare to meet:

The Monk.

The Cave.

The Ghosts.

and their stories.

Click on the image above to learn more and join!

Chronic Illness and Modern Monasticism

There is an interesting correlation between the modern monastic calling and chronic illness.  When I look at the community of women (and a few men) who have found their way to my offerings, it is uncanny how many of them are struggling with some sort of chronic, often debilitating, condition. It is also curious how many of these chronic conditions defy modern medicine – either eluding diagnosis or resisting treatment.  

Case in point. I have a long list of chronic conditions:  polycystic kidney disease, Epstein Barr, a form of PTSD, chronic vestibular neuritis, migraines, anxiety, depression, and panic disorder. This smorgasbord of intermittent symptoms has forced me to prioritize self-care and has removed me from “regular” employment. The capitalistic model of drive, strive, and achieve are no longer options for me. Neither is the 80 (or even 40) hour work week.

Privileging self-care confronts the western cultural paradigm, especially when the reason for self-care falls into the stigmatized category of chronic illness.

Our conditioned way of being (work hard and make money) no longer works for many who struggle with chronic illness (if it ever really did) and forces us to explore other ways of being..

The capitalistic model of drive, strive, achieve, and cajole, where success is measured by money, status, and power, simply does not work for those called to the contemplative life.  Furthermore, our world has become too loud, too bright, too violent, too divisive, too……everything…..for the sensitive, empathetic, and compassionate nature for those called to modern monastic living.

In this age, the monastic calling doesn’t present itself directly. Instead, it becomes apparent because all other options have failed.

There is nothing in our upbringing that prepares us for the possibility of a contemplative calling. Instead, we are forced to flail about in the darkness until we find what our souls have been seeking all along. Chronic illness is one of those conditions that helps us find our way. I have often wondered if the chronic conditions that many of us face are simply for the purpose of leading and supporting us in choosing the contemplative life and that this calling has become necessary in a world that has simply become too violent. It cannot be an accident that many of us who are called to a more monastic way of being are empaths, highly sensitive people, intuitives, and introverts. Perhaps we are here to show the world another way.

When the world has become out of harmony with itself, Love sends gentle and contemplative souls to bring the world back into alignment.

Perhaps we are those souls – sent to find a way to live in greater alignment with the truth of our Souls, while showing the world there is another way.

Excerpt from the Whispers from the Cave interactive web series. Learn more HERE.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How has the “modern” world contributed to or caused your chronic illness?
  • How has self-care become more of a priority in your life?
  • How has chronic illness supported you in finding a gentler, more easeful way of living in the world?
  • What inner resources have awakened in you through your experience with chronic illness?

Whispers from the Cave features limited edition, exclusive content examining the daily life and reflections of a modern monk living in a “cave” surrounded by ghosts.

 • 4+ episodes per month (written and recorded)

• Exclusive content (not available anywhere else)

• Interactive discussion (bring your burning questions)

• Educational and Informative

• Inspiring and Supportive

• Special pricing for the first 100 subscribers

Whispers from the Cave

Interactive Web Series

Whispers from the Cave tells the true story of an 800 year old monk (I’m actually not quite sixty, but I feel like I’m 800!) living in a 150 year old school house that just happens to be haunted!

  • Part old-time radio show.
  • Part history.
  • Part investigative journalism.
  • Part penny dreadful.
  • Part autobiography.

Whispers from the Cave features limited edition, exclusive content examining the daily life and reflections of a modern monk living in a “cave” surrounded by ghosts.

  • 4+ episodes per month (written and recorded)
  • Exclusive content (not available anywhere else)
  • Interactive discussion (bring your burning questions)
  • Educational and Informative
  • Inspiring and Supportive
  • Special pricing for the first 100 subscribers

Grab your morning cup, your favorite blanket, and snuggle in as you prepare to meet:

The Monk.

The Cave.

The Ghosts.

and their stories.

Learn more and subscribe by clicking the image above.

The Monk: Lauri Ann Lumby

I’m what one might call a modern monastic. No, I haven’t joined a convent, or taken up the habit and I have no interest in a vow of celibacy (though having celibacy imposed upon me these past many years, I can’t say celibacy is a bad thing….just leaving my options open!).  However, I have increasingly found myself living a monastic kind of life. 

Having stepped away from the trappings of the material world, I live a quiet, simple life. Most of my days are spent in solitude, immersed in meditation and prayer, simple chores, writing, creating, and seeing an occasional client or teaching an occasional online course. I have no interest in the things “of this world,” especially those things imposed upon us by the capitalistic “ideal.”  I spent my earlier life driving, striving, and trying to achieve, finding myself with nothing but a bloody forehead. Now I prefer a life free from sacrifice, the pressure to perform, and the desire to be seen.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I’m a somewhat of a prophet. I see and know what is happening and about to happen in our world. Rather than participate in the impending collapse of the empire, I’m choosing to get out of the way while quietly building a whole new world. Perhaps you’d like to join me?

The Cave

Dale School is an Italianate style brick school building designed by William Waters and constructed in three stages: 1870, 1889, and 1908. It was last used as a school in 1981 after which it was converted into character loft apartments. There are now sixteen units in the building famous for their soaring ceilings, nature hardwood floors, three-foot thick walls, and twelve-foot windows.

Dale School has been my home since 2019, where I have carved out a quiet, solitary life, increasingly so after my adult children moved out and into their own homes. My apartment has become my cave, my temple, and my sanctuary. Those I love are welcome here, including those few special clients who come for counsel and healing.

Oh yeah, and the ghosts who also live here!

The Ghosts

I’m not kidding when I say “I see dead people.” I don’t see them in the way others might, but I do see them. Strangely, I first became aware of this gift after moving to this strange swamp town where I’ve lived since 1992.  In fact, every apartment or house that I’ve lived in these past thirty years has been otherwise occupied (by ghosts!). I’ve always found myself sharing my accommodations with those who lived there before me and have since gone on from this physical life. For whatever reason, they have chosen to remain on this plane in ghostly form. Some have asked for my assistance in moving on from this plane, but many have chosen to stay.

Dale School, I quickly learned, is no different. Since moving in, I have become intimately acquainted with the four ghosts who have chosen to remain here:

The School Teacher

The Custodian

The Little Boy

The Hall Monitor

When asked if they would like help moving on, their emphatic answer is NO.  For their own reasons they have all chosen to stay. I welcome the Teacher when she visits my room (I’m pretty sure my apartment was once her classroom). I greet the Custodian and the Little Boy as they putter about their chores in the lower level. I ask the Hall Monitor for permission to pass when I need to visit the second floor. They all have their own stories and I’m happy to share my home with them.

The Unsettled Spirits of Dale School live elsewhere.  They’re in the nooks and crannies of the cobweb infested basement, in the bowels of the ancient boiler, and in the sewers of abandoned lavatories.  They are also in the attic with the guano and air conditioning vents. I stay away from those dark and unsettled spaces, but for the sake of this series, I will bravely go where only HVAC and phone system technicians have dared to go.

Featured Course: The Holy Bride in Exile

The Secret Teachings of The Holy Bride in Exile 

Permission and support for those called to a more interior way of sacred living.

Seven Lessons:

Mary Magdalene as the Bride in Exile

The Holy Bride in Exile in Mythology and Folklore

The Shekinah as The Bride in Exile

Personal Power Gained through Exile

The Promise of Provision in Exile

Creating and Being Your Own Temple

Click on image above to learn more and enroll

Genesis of this Course:

The Holy Bride in Exile course has come about in both a logical and an illogical way. The logical includes almost thirty years of intensive study of the Magdalene, my own education and experience in scripture study, theology, religious history, human development, psychology, Christian and Jewish mysticism, etc. etc. etc. Also logical are all the courses I’ve developed and facilitated including the Magdalene Priesthood training, the Order of Melchizedek Alchemist training, and my most recent courses on the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and Mary Magdalene and the Path of the Holy Bride. All of this work, and my own integration of these studies provided the framework out of which exploration of the Bride in Exile became possible.

The illogical is the lightening bolt that pierced through me while reading Raphael Patai’s The Hebrew Goddess. When I came upon Patai’s words, “The Holy Bride in Exile,” the whole world turned on its axis, everything stopped, and the downloads began. It literally felt as if the top of my head had been opened up and someone/something was pouring awareness and knowledge into me. If this wasn’t exciting (terrifying) enough, what was being shown to me validated and affirmed a calling that has likely been present within me my whole life, but now had become increasingly urgent:

The call to a more interior way of sacred living.

It is because I know I am not alone in this calling that I share this course with you. This, I believe, is so much more than a course, it is:

Permission and Support for a way of living that has been lost in our society – one that was once valued (more on that later), but with the advent of the patriarchy, and more recently of capitalism, interior living has been cast aside as ridiculous, or at the very least, counter-cultural.

“Only crazy or morbidly depressed people would want to spend most of their time in solitary contemplation and study, moving slowly and gently upon this earth.”

The Holy Bride in Exile says otherwise. Not only is the Holy Bride in Exile an ancient archetype, it is, I believe, a critical stage in the Soul development of those who are either called to exile as a way of living, or who find themselves in temporary states of exile as part of their Soul’s journey of unfolding. Society needs its hermits for reasons that we will uncover in this course.

My greatest heart desire in sharing this journey with you is that you feel validated and affirmed in your own unique calling and that you discover the empowerment that is inherent in our times of exile. Additionally, I hope that through this support you can harness the courage and strength to boldly live your interior life knowing that by doing so you are offering a powerful gift not only to yourself, but also to the world.

Thank you for embarking upon this journey with me!

The New Monasticism

Contemplative Living in the Modern World

As the Institutional Church continues its decline, and monastic communities along with it, we are invited to Re-Vision Church, while at the same time re-visioning monasticism. What does it mean to be contemplative, in community, and in service to the betterment of the world without taking vows of chastity and poverty?  What does it mean to be called to the contemplative life while living in the modern world?   In this week’s lesson, we are going to explore these questions. I invite you to join in this exploration with me!

Church, as we have known it, is dying.  Included in this death is the dramatic decline of women and men entering religious orders. In the Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Episcopal traditions, these monastic orders have been the guardians of the contemplative traditions while dedicating their lives in service to the Divine and to the betterment of our world. These are the women and men who serve the needs of the poor, bring healing to the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and who are continually working for social justice and the rights of the vulnerable and oppressed.  These are the people who are “boots on the ground.”

In the modern age, however, the number of those who are “boots on the ground” has drastically declined. To put it simply, few are called to the vows of chastity or poverty that are required for in most monastic orders. Additionally people (in the first world anyway) are not looking toward religious life as an escape or as a means to an education. As our world becomes increasingly pluralistic (embracing the truths present within a multitude of belief systems) and institutional religion continues to decline, there are quite simply fewer to choose from as potential candidates for religious life.

This does not mean, however, that women and men are not looking for what monastic life has provided:

  • A life centered in contemplation, meditation and prayer.
  • Spiritual Formation and Empowerment.
  • A Community of like-minded women and men.
  • Meaningful and fulfilling work that is both personally enriching and which serves the betterment of the world.

How can women and men get these needs met outside of institutional religion, while embracing a multitude of beliefs? 

I have shared this quandary with many of my friends, students and clients.  There seems to be a deep hunger among people to connect – and to do so along a similar intention or goal.  One friend for example, has carries within him the long-standing vision of building a sustainable community – one whose focus is on agricultural sustainability and permaculture – living away from the distractions of the capitalistic world and providing for their own needs while providing for others.  He has seen this as a collaborative collective of like-minded people dedicated to building community, while caring for the earth with sustainable farming practices.  This is a vision that he has held for the six years (lifetimes) I have known him.  He has been slowly working toward this vision and only recently have the pieces fallen into place which are allowing him to fulfill this vision. 

A former student has held a similar vision, but for her the vision isn’t centered on agriculture, but is instead about providing a place for women to be safe (her focus is women who have been abused and their children), where they can heal and become empowered through a sisterhood of supportive women.  The focus of this community would be on ritual, healing practice, meditation and prayer.  Additionally, shamanic healing practices, counseling and empowerment would be offered to help these women create a new life for themselves – either within or outside of the community.

Another example of attempts that are being made to support women and men in receiving the benefits that monastic life used to provide is the way that many Catholic retreat centers have re-visioned themselves.  Many are housed within former convents or monasteries, providing a place of prayer, contemplation, formation, healing and stewardship.  The FSPA (Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration) sisters, for example, have several retreat centers that share a common mission – stewardship of the earth, sustainability, contemplation and prayer, outreach to the community. 

These are all examples of how women and men are finding creative answers to the deep calling within themselves that would have formerly been met within vowed religious life. The one thing that all of these examples have in common is PLACE.  They all require land and buildings – a place people have to go to be a part of these communities. While these examples meet the needs of some, what about the needs of those who are not called to “place”?

I am one of those people, and I suspect if you are part of this community, you might be too.  How do we live a monastic life outside the confines of place and within the rhythm of our everyday lives?  Most of the women and men in this community have “day jobs” and/or a family to care for.  We are called from a wide range of professions, vocational callings and life circumstances – all of which preclude living out a contemplative life defined by place.  Instead, we are called to create space within our everyday life for the benefits of monasticism:

  • A life centered in contemplation, meditation and prayer.
  • Spiritual Formation and Empowerment.
  • A Community of like-minded women and men.
  • Meaningful and fulfilling work that is both personally enriching and which serves the betterment of the world – work which we may or may not get paid for.

It isn’t easy, but it can be done. In order to fulfill this calling we will likely have to defy the rules and conditioning of our patriarchal world – rules that say our value is determined by what we do, how hard we work, how many people know us, how much money we make and by association, what we own.  Living a contemplative life in the modern world requires a shifting of priorities – creating space for the above mentioned items.  Carving out time for meditation and prayer. Making a commitment to our spiritual formation and to the calling which comes forth from that exploration and study.  Taking time to connect with those who are choosing to share in this journey.  Turning away from work, relationships, activities and expectations that no longer serve our Divine calling and turning toward that which fulfills and serves the betterment of the world.  All of this while ceasing from judging the paths and choices of those within our community, understanding that we are all on our own path – just trying to find our way home (to ourselves and our “God”).

I have been and continue to work on this for myself.  I can attest that it is a continued unfolding and a continued deepening.  Every day, it seems, I am called more and more fully into living out the contemplative life I have envisioned.  This alone is a practice.  In addition to my daily meditation and prayer, is the constant evaluation of the rhythm of my life and to what I am giving my energy.  Each day I am observing, witnessing, tweeking – what is life giving and what is not? What is an energy drain and what gives me life?  What makes me feel safe (peaceful, calm, content) and what is overstimulating, taxing, anxiety-producing?  It is an ongoing practice and my hope is that in doing this for myself, I can in turn, support you in doing the same – in the way that works for you!  (Not everyone is called to transmute the darkness of the world – you lucky souls! )

Join us for weekly reflections on monastic living.
Join us for our weekly spiritual service and twice monthly community sharing circle.

Suggested Spiritual Practice:

In the Christian tradition, Jesus provides the perfect example of the contemplative life. 

  • A life rooted in contemplation and prayer.
  • Ongoing spiritual formation.
  • Engagement with a like-minded community.
  • Meaningful work in service to the betterment of the world.

When his disciples asked Jesus how he did this, he answered was simple, PRAYER. He instructed them as such:

Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Divine Parent who is in secret; and your Divine Parent who sees in secret will reward you. MT 6:6

Jesus prayed (meditated) a lot!  He invited his disciples to do the same.  He did this because he knew:

Seek ye first the kingdom of God (within) and everything will be given unto you. MT 6:33

It is within this intimate connection with God that we find ourselves and in finding ourselves, we discover who we are, who we are called to be and how we are called to live our lives.  We also find this in the quiet discernment of our heart where we know what is “of God” and what is not. 

My invitation to all of this this week, is to enter into our quiet place and ask how we are individually and personally called to live out the contemplative life in our modern world?  As the pieces come through for you, please feel free to share them with our community, either in the discussion section below or if you are part of the social network, please share it there.

With love,