23 April 2013

Request for Input on "Hermits" and "Vacations"

I have to say that I am really surprised by the reactions I have received about a couple of topics in particular, namely, vacation time and home visits. I do receive what one person referred to as "snarky" emails occasionally on various topics and I have received a number of emails quoting others who have made nasty (angry and judgmental) comments about the hiddenness of hermits, the arrogance of those who seek canonical standing as opposed to the humility of those who do not, accusations of legalism as opposed to being concerned with Christ and the mystical life, and so forth, but none of these have surprised me as much as the comments and questions regarding vacations and home visits.

So, although I have responded to these emails already I am trying to understand where these folks are coming from; I have been thinking a lot about that. What is it about hermits taking time for a visit with their family or, as I have done twice in the past several years, taking a week away from the hermitage for time with a friend --- time spent mainly in shared solitude, prayer, shared meals, and recreation? Why do people react so strongly to this idea and what needs to be clarified about the eremitical life to help resolve this?

I definitely think I understand SOME of this, but only SOME. I would really like to hear from readers regarding what they think about this if they have ideas or have run into something similar. What images comes to you when you hear "a hermit takes five days away from hermitage" or some combination of the words "hermit" and "vacation" or hermit and "home visit"? Why is it such an oxymoron or such a passion-stirring thing do you think? Please let me hear from you and please be honest. Just email me with something recognizable in the subject line. Thanks!