Drowning in details?

Are you exhausted with the bombardments of deadlines, required planning meetings, urgent emails, tweets and 55 more people who want to “friend” you on FaceBook?  Maybe you need to disconnect from those demands that consume your days. 

Have you considered a few days in a monastery?  I’m serious.  No, you don’t have to take a vow of chastity or poverty – just spend a few days in this alternate lifestyle.  There are hundreds of them across the country that will welcome you into their quiet world.  You may want to sign up for a retreat with a focus.  A retreat is a time to “take off your shoes,” to leave schedules and projects behind, and to be open and vulnerable – ready to be changed and deepened, and to view one’s own life as “holy ground.”

You may just need a few days of simple living, quiet and solitude with no stated focus.   “We open our doors to anyone,” says Sister Josie Sanchez, of the Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs.  “And if a person can’t afford the $50 per night fee for accommodations and food, they can work around the property,” she says.  Another center says they will help you “Retreat, Rest, Reflect, and Renew.”

I personally have spent time at the The Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky.  You may be familiar with this monastery as the home of author Thomas Merton.  One of their stated goals is to “tone down excessive self-concern.”  Thus there is no talking.  Yes, it’s a little odd at first but I quickly got used to and welcomed it.  A wonderful time for contemplation, prayer and cleansing.  All they ask for is an anonymous donation as you leave.  No phones, TV or email will cause any of us to think and reflect in ways we normally miss.  Believe me, you will hear, see and think things you’ve been missing all along.  You may get a clearer sense of your purpose in the absence of daily clutter and chatter.  And most of these monasteries have an architectural beauty that is rare in the United States.    


Here’s a list of over 1200 monasteries in the English-speaking world:  Religious Life Communities 


I had already posted this blog when I got a message about an upcoming John Michael Talbot retreat at his monastery farm in Berryville, Arkansas.  John Michael was a very successful member of the old country folk/rock band Mason Proffit, but decided to withdraw from that life.  On August 7-9, 2009 he’ll be teaching Lessons of St. Francis.  The registration fee is only $200.   Or you can wait until the following week and catch Michael Card at the same retreat center.   


As in most areas of our lives, we get to choose.  Do you want one more draining trip to Disneyland or a few days of quiet, peaceful silence?

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10 Responses to “Drowning in details?”

  1. Sophia Marsden Says:

    I visited an Orthodox monastery this summer, just for 3 days. It was good. I never did anything like that before, but I would like to again.

  2. therealmotherlode Says:

    Wow….funny you should mention John Michael Talbot. Just the other day I was fondly remembering a concert he did back in my college days. Glad to see he’s still doing his thing. And man….that monastery thing sounds heavenly.

  3. Damon Says:

    I know a few ladies who take a weekend retreat every year at the Saint Bernard Abbey near Cullman, Alabama.


  4. Jill Says:

    Good timing! A couple of years ago, I did an overnight at a convent a couple of miles from me. I thought it was interesting how quickly I adapted to their peaceful, unhurried lifestyle. I lost myself in the cozy wood-paneled library, as the chill autumn winds blew outside. The food was served on antique china, basic, but very good. The convent itself borders a local state park and it was a joy to walk the grounds watching the leaves change. And in the end, the sisters asked for a voluntary donation and to pray for the one who would be staying in the room/cell after you. It was simply A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! I will return someday, and spend a longer period of time.

  5. Patrick Fariss Says:

    Great post. I wrote a journal entry a few days back entitled, “Twittering Our Thumbs”, and it is so easy to get overwhelmed and sidetracked. Thanks so much!

  6. Rona Davis Says:

    What awesome information Dan! Sadly, it took me becoming very ill to unplug from the ways of our modern world. It was life altering for me in many ways. I sure wish I would have just gone to a monastery instead. I will next time! I had no idea that was available to us. I am thrilled to see this suggestion from you – thank you!

  7. Martin Allan Says:

    I saw John Michael Talbot in concert back in the early 90’s here in Sydney. Even though the venue wasn’t the best acoustically & only a small crowd of several hundred were there he sounded just like he does on his recordings. Great night.

  8. Mary Lawson Says:

    I have retreated to St Benedictine Center in Schyler NE. It was an awesome experience. I went as a retreat for a state board that I belong to, but what a way to clear your mind and focus on what needs to be done with no interruptions. Not even cell service unless you climb the hill!
    Could easily spend more time there!

  9. Sheryl Boyd Says:

    Wonderful suggestion! When I was growing up my grandmother had a daily prayer hour, no disturbances allowed! This prayer hour has carried over to my daily two hour commute. I listen to thought provoking and inspirational CDs that allow me my quiet time. It has been refreshing that my attention is focused on advancing my spiritual life. I no longer have the significant road rage and my commute is generally uneventful-put on the cruise and don’t get angry about other drivers. (Of course, one does need to keep track of their driving but now I am not comsumed by beating the other driver to the one open spot for the exit. I simply wait my turn and focus on listening to the daily message.) I feel fortunate to have this daily time for myself and reflection. Thank you, Sheryl B

  10. Trail of Truth Says:

    I practice a daily time of devotions and contemplation, but plan to have a retreat before summer’s end.

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