16 April 2017

On Eremitical Life and Honoring Creation

[[Hello Sister,  First, I wish you an happy easter in the joy of the risen Christ ! I have questions for you. You're an urban hermit, if I understand well. I was wondering if sometimes you missed contemplating the Creation ? As a lay cistercian. . . I need the nature to pray - walk in the woods, animals, etc... (See Laudato Si : When we can see God reflected in all that exists, our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship him in union with them" n°87) Do you pray for the Creation, if yes, how ? Also, if there's urban hermit, are they hermits who are called to live closer to nature, in a rural setting ? Do you think it can be a part of the vocation of an hermit ?]]

Hi there. A wonderful Easter to you! Yes, I am an urban hermit but in my case I live in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a relatively affluent town built in the East Bay hills. While I live in the middle of town there are lots of tress, walking and bike paths, creeks, a reservoir with lots of wildlife, as well as access to nearby State and other parks. However, if I was able to do this, I would enjoy living in the deeper silence of a more rural and even remote area. One place I go for retreat is Redwoods Abbey on the Lost Coast of California; you'll recognize it as a Trappistine Abbey. On those occasions I love the profound silence not only of the surroundings, but the silence cultivated by Sisters (and guests) for one another.

One of my fantasies is to live in a Tree house built by someone like "the Treehouse Master" in our Pacific Northwest so I would live in a canopy of trees and perhaps even feel the motion of the wind to some extent, etc. It would allow for a simplicity of dwelling, sufficient space for oratory, small library, and living area, as well as being ecofriendly. However, this is not really feasible so I am happy enough using my patio with redwood and other trees nearby in order to pray, read and write during the late Spring and Summer. I especially love doing this at night and early mornings. At these times there is significant solitude and silence. Living close to nature, especially in a silence which opens one to a world of natural sounds has always been seen as an ideal for hermits. God does not merely dwell in silence and the natural world, He is the abyss and ground of silence. The hermits I know build in as much access to the beauty and silence of nature as is possible for them; it is a privileged environment for meeting God and oneself without distraction or distortion.

Do I pray for creation? I am not exactly sure what you mean by this question. I try to honor creation. I think of our world as suffering serious depredations at the hands of human beings, as being God's own, and as requiring much better stewardship by all of us. I pray, as I pray for all things which concern me/the Church. In terms of theology I read and am reading more extensively as time goes by on the intersection of science and faith, evolution and the coming to be of a "new heaven and earth."  I completely reject the simplistic dichotomous treatment of the temporal and eternal, earth and heaven, and I write consistently about the interpenetration of heaven and earth, the bodiliness of resurrection, and the God who one day will be all in all. These are theological pieces of regarding the whole of God's creation as a sacramental reality and they are a significant part of the theological underpinnings which make honoring creation imperative and part of every person's calling.

Not sure I have answered your question but I hope this is helpful. If this raises more questions for you please get back to me. In the meantime all good wishes for the season!