Welcome, Lovers of Solitude!


Thank you to all who took our 2016 survey online.

Hello All from Still Wood!
Paul & Karen




Whew!  Are we ready to follow “Wood Be Hermit” on the path to greater solitude and to meet the unexpected challenges that crop up even when we are forewarned?  This calling could be dangerous, even life threatening! Our mental balance will certainly be questioned, even by our nearest and dearest.  Once they learn of our attraction to simplicity (traveling lightly); to silence (no unnecessary conversation or even electronic noise); and to solitude (living alone filled with the Holy), they may consider us seriously delusional.

Are we?  True, our company on this narrow, twisting road may be as strange as goats, burros, and tight rope walkers – all individuals who are quick on their feet and who depend on their ability to keep to the straight and narrow.  Those of us who attempt the climb of Corkscrew Mtn.. ( also known as the eremitical life) are aware that starting out is crucial but the determination to see this through to the end marks the difference between a wannabe and a genuine solitary.

We are opening a new discussion topic and we earnestly invite you to share with our family of hermit bloggers by sharing what initially attracted to you to hermit life and what were the first steps you took.  Did they turn out to be wise or did you need to recoup and start over – perhaps more than once!

Just go to the new post: “How I Began … More than once!” and share whatever you wish.

A Rich Posting – April 18    The Order of Watchers

We were profoundly inspired by this name of a hermit group in France and feel it speaks to the heart of eremitic life.  Go to it and share YOUR thoughts and comments, please.



199 thoughts on “Welcome, Lovers of Solitude!”

  1. I just realized that for all of my life, most of which has been extremely active and difficult, the Holy Spirit has been calling me to be an anchoress. I am 71 years old, a consecrated member of Love Crucified Covenant Community, [Catholic]. I am retired, own my own home, and live in a relatively large city. For the last two weeks, I have been researching and pondering this call, trying to decide what it means and how I am to live it.

    Two cousins live with me (but on the other side of the house) and for the most part, I have complete silence, if I want it. I live my Covenant deeply, as a victim of love for priests and souls, with daily Adoration, Mass, Divine Office, and Rosary, etc.; but I know now that the Holy Spirit wants much more of me. I have begun writing a simple rule of life, the guidelines that I think I must follow, and our spiritual father of Love Crucified will be my spiritual director–a most wonderful, Spirit-filled priest of God.

    I thought that the reflection that I did today might be helpful to someone else out there who is trying to figure out what the life of a contemporary anchorite/anchoress might look like:

    “Jan. 30, 2018 …”withdraw from the world”
    “I thought this morning during Adoration that I need to meditate on this word withdraw. I visualize someone on the verge of exiting a building, a little house—but stopping, backing up, watching what is before her, stepping backwards, drawing herself within her house, refusing to exit her home, seeing what is out there, refusing to participate in it. This is, of course, a crude image, but it states a truth, nevertheless. Watchfulness is certainly a part of the process, a discerning look at what is about, what is before me and around me. I just wrote a post , “These eyes will behold…”, [soulfoodministries.wordpress.com] about custody of the eyes, the ears, the tongue. This is the heart of this watchfulness, not to let the world in, people, yes, but not the world, not sin, not sinful inclinations. Not the territory, the atmosphere, the flavor, the fascination, the seductive draw of the world, the flesh, and the devil. To avoid anything that may be the least bit tainted.

    “It will take me the rest of my life to learn this life of withdrawal. What I withdraw from is what is outside.

    “I am fully aware, also, of the role that memory will play in all of this. The reality of the world has fastened itself in great, colorful detail to my soul through my memory, and it is probably this internal construct of the world that will give me the greatest struggle. I can withdraw from the world, but will the world leave me if it lives within me? It will require my constant renunciation, vigilance, surrender to the Holy Spirit and Abandonment to Christ.

    “Then we have the other half—or more—of the equation. If I am withdrawing [drawing myself within], to what inside am I drawn? To the extent I withdraw from , I must be equally drawn to: To be crucified with Him and to be hidden with Christ in God—to be drawn, to be present to the indwelling Trinity. This is the within.

    ‘To be an anchoress is not only to withdraw, but more significantly, to indwell. Separation and solitude give the walls. Vigilance and discernment give the cloister. Silence gives the substance.

    “Today, I was reading St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, remembering her three levels of silence: the silence of the walls of Carmel [exterior silence], the silence of the inner cloister, and the great silence of God [the indwelling Trinity in the sanctuary of the heart].

    “The whole purpose of the life of anchoress is to live in all three levels of silence, especially in the silence of the indwelling Trinity.”

  2. I find this very interesting as a whole, but see here, like everywhere else, I don’t quite fit in. I have always been a loner from a very young age. Currently, my workday is very noisy, and I cherish quiet. I talk to my animals, and relish the time sitting outside with them in the quiet. Here’s where I differ. I feel no particular religious calling, nor a desire to achieve a greater understanding of religion during my quiet time. I’m not trying to get closer to god as it were. (Perhaps this is my way of doing it somehow, I don’t know. ) I’ll keep reading, and see if I can make a worthwhile contribution to the discussion. If there is room for a not really religious hermit, I’ll find a cave here somewhere.

    1. One of the beauties of solitary life is that there is room for everybody. Our definition of a “hermit”, no matter what name they use is: “a person who lives alone by choice for spiritual reasons.” To us, it sounds like you are touching on the spiritual. We deliberately say spiritual so as not to lock anyone into religion. Perhaps your cave is somewhere on the spectrum? Let us hold one another in the silence. Karen & Paul

      1. I do share many christian beliefs, as I believe that’s just the right way to treat each other as people. I was baptized in the mid 80’s, but “fell away”, hard. Nothing illegal, just at that time, being a true believer amongst hypocrites soured me on the whole thing. I understand it wasn’t fair, but at the time it was my best option. Pretty well threw the whole idea out. Organized religion, where I was, sought control over the people through priviledged few. I felt their ideas of right and wrong did not fit with the bible I was reading. They were putting the ideas of man, over the word of god. They also demanded that people worship “properly” in a church. I became the bad guy for suggesting outside worship was good, “in gods creation, and not something built by man”. Ooh. Guess I wet on their parade with that thought. Things didn’t improve after that, oh well. More later, I’m posting while sitting outside, and there’s a sheep hoofing me, gently, wanting to be scratched. Bless all.

        1. Sorry your church experience was so acutely disappointing. There is life with God after this. Some of us just have to go it on our own. But perhaps you will welcome a little companionship on your journey? Karen & Paul

  3. Hello,

    I just discovered your lovely website. I have been very moved reading the loving and wise comments on your readers.

    A bit about me: I live in a very noisy city in a very noisy apartment. It is very hard for me because I am desperate for quiet and solitude.

    I developed chronic health issues a number of years ago and basically became stuck and frightened and never moved on so here I am.

    In the past, I lived very far away from God. He revealed Himself to me in 2009. A friend with the same health condition as me had committed suicide. Frankly, I was on the same path. But Jesus, in His infinite grace, came to me and literally saved my life. I was baptized as a Protestant in 2010, and became a Catholic about three years ago. I am a devout, faithful Catholic and will wander no more.

    The trouble is that my life (in the noisy area, and noisy apartment) does not lend itself to peace. I cannot afford to move to another apartment. I’d like to leave the area, but have nowhere to go and have no one who could take me in.

    I would welcome any suggestions from your readers. I would love to live in a cell or some other living situation attached to a monastery or convent, as the older Catholic lay women used to be able to do. But sadly, given the few sisters or even monasteries these days, that does not seem like an option.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated, however. And how can someone like myself, who is stuck in a very noisy life, find peace?

    Thank you. . and God Bless.

  4. Greetings fellow lovers of silence and solitude!
    My name is Tom, and I am new as a subscriber to Ravens bread.
    I am of course grateful to our Lord for this available ministry?
    When I was in my late twenties and early thirties I lived as a monastic with the Trappists. Eventually I left. I am now 58yrs young and being called to live as a family brother at Assumption Abbey in Ava, Mo. A family brother is a man who lives his life in the world(but not of it), and periodically goes to the Abbey and lives within the cloister with the monks for a few days, a week, a month, whatever, then goes back to his life in the world. Back and forth. This monastic calling I am also grateful for as I thought I would never see the inside of a cloister again. I live in NY, and will be retiring in a few yrs. and will be moving near the Abbey in MO. As far as I know this is the only monastery in the country that has a family brother program.
    Now, the monastic life is different that the hermitic life, and when I move I plan on living as a solitary besides being affiliated with the Abbey. The solitary life will be relatively new to me, and I am trying to live one as much as I can now.
    I want to ask all you hermits and solitaries, what are the top three reasons for living the life you do, besides being called to live it, and can you elaborate on those reasons? My experiences have taught me that to some degree it is a life of intimacy with the Trinity. Pleas share, and thank you, and God Bless all.
    Tom O.

    1. Welcome, Tom! Sounds like you are finding your way step by step as we all do. We know another family brother at Assumption Abbey – a good friend of ours. We hope you get some good responses to your appropriate question. Prayers, Karen & Paul

  5. I have been living solitude in some forms or ways since as a young Mother of four homeschooled children back in 1989. We lived in the country. After they were raised and independent I became a widow alone on 68 acres in a new state. Everytime I travel and meet with people I long for my solitude. I have remained isolated with no visitors for up to two years at a time. Recently I found your web site and it is here that I realize that I am a hermit and love it!

    1. Congratulations, Bernadette, on discovering the Call that has been yours for many years. We are glad to welcome you into the Raven’s Bread family and trust the Lord will continue to lead you into the fields of silence and peace. Let us pray for one another. Karen & Paul

    2. Wow! How amazing! Would you be interested in writing to another Mother of 4 (grown) who homeschooled ? I would want paper letters as I don’t care for emailing. Let me know and I’ll send an address. Katherine

  6. Could anyone tell me the source of the poem “I Want” by St Catherine of Siena which appeared on pg. 4 in the February 2017 issue of “Raven’s Bread.” I would like to read more of her writings and don’t know where to start. In solitary solidarity and with heartfelt prayers, good wishes and gratitude to all of you who help me understand that my life is a mission in its own little way and makes sense, Janis, New York City

    1. Dear Janis,
      Paul & Karen here. We copied that quote by St. Catherine of Siena from another source of quotes we use from time to time: “Friends of Silence.” I suspect that you may find that the quote is a poem composed from her thoughts. However, if you want her full writings, we suggest you look for the book on her in the Classics of Western Spirituality put out by Paulist Press. You may even find it among Amazon’s books? Perhaps someone else, possibly more familiar with the Dominican school can tell you more. Let us continue to pray for one another.

  7. I stay indoors in my room most of the time in the middle of a big city in California. I am attracted to the stories of St. Mary of Egypt, St. Pelagia, St. Thalia, etc. I read a book called the great Magdalens and was immediately smitten with them. I am now reading about the great St. Antony of Egypt. I was my clothes by hand in my apartment instead of using the complex laundromat. I have tried to be more off grid as much as possible. I do what I can. When I look at some of these hermitage’s, I become in awe of how they are able to endure such a hard life. I have so much respect for them. I wish I could be one. I am a little weak though and don’t do well on sacrifices like I should. I have given up almost all meat except chicken and cheese, but no fish, red meat, pork, eggs, etc. I wish I could be like St. Pelagia, who after having converted, went to a little hut in Jerusalem and did so much penance that no one saw her eat, bathe, or anything. She eventually died in the little hut. The whole time they thought she was a man because she hid in disguise. Some say this is a pious legend but I don’t believe that it is only a story. I believe she was real. Anyways, she was a harlot that was a penitent. I hope one day I can get better at being a hermit. I found you today online and I am considering buying your book. Thanks for your website.

    1. Welcome, Christi! Thank you for sharing a bit about your life and about the desert mothers and fathers that inspire you. I think we can adapt their values without reverting to a medieval lifestyle. (We aren’t built for it anymore, I suspect.) But their goal of living in total awareness of God at all times is one we can embrace wholeheartedly. In the end, all that matters is love. Let us pray for one another. Karen

  8. I am married, with 3 young children with special needs, adult children who have cut me out of their lives, I was an only child & have enjoyed people in my life on my terms. I appreciate my solitude when my children go to school & hubby goes to work, he is now self employed, so that varies-however he isn’t a talker or clingy so..it works other than his need to have tv on all the time.I enjoy silence, music & reading. I feel very fulfilled going thru my daily chores & am most at peace with God as my companion. I love my husband & children, but am relieved when I don’t have to leave the house & the phone doesn’t ring.

    1. MaryBeth,
      Glad to hear from you. It sounds like you have a full life and treasure your quiet time when it is available. We are sure it gives you inner peace to deal with your outer life. May God continue to bless you and let us pray for one another. Karen & Paul (RB)

    1. Welcome John!
      The materials that are offered on the website are available to anyone who asks. A donation is appreciated. Likewise with re to Raven’s Bread newsletter. Let us pray for one another. Karen & Paul

  9. I am a monk and hermit life is integral to my life. It is great to know that more and more people are interested in this way of life. A hermit is anchored in silenced only when rooted in spirituality, which would have different meanings for different people.
    Swami Narasimhananda

    1. Welcome, Swami Narasimhananda! We are pleased to look forward to your contributions to Raven’s Blog. Exchanging insights around spirituality and silence/solitude etc. can be enriching for all of us. One of the beauties of eremitical life is that it is a living reality in almost all traditions. Let us pray for one another. Karen F.

  10. Yes the sun is always shining and its always singing and its always sending us warmth. We too are the light of the world so let us rejoice and be glad.

  11. I’m reading a book called Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum.

    Not too long into the journey – when sailing thru thick fog – Joshua finds himself drifting into loneliness however, during the foggy days he says a feeling of awe crept over him and his memory worked with startling power.

    His loneliness wore off when he had to pay much attention to manning his vessel but when fine weather returned the sense of solitude returned.

    It’s an interesting book to read and reflect on – as a loner I dream of getting a boat which I would consider my hermitage but I don’t quite have the courage to. But who knows – maybe I will.

    Anyway just thought I’d share this with you all.

    1. To Karen N and All of You!

      The celebration of the Risen Life we’ve been given has been extraordinary this year, after 1 & 1/2 years of struggling with cancer behind me. I have been changed! The New Life is found right now, right here! I’ve been given the gift to savor every moment; to work at things quietly and with more patience; to love more tenderly and with compassion. Even on the cloudy days, I know the Sun is shining! Blessings to all during this Paschal Season of 2016! Let us pray for one another, Karen F

    2. Karen, the story about sailing on a boat caught my attention since I’ve been in and out of solitary/alone with God for many years now. But between geographic moves, disabilities, and family issues, I have not been able to concentrate on my vocation. The best I can do however is to take little steps at a time and perhaps then with the assistance of the Holy Spirit I will be able to arrive to my destination if that’s God Will.

      I’d like to find a spiritual companion. Do you know or recommend anyone?

      Fondly, Grateful

  12. Thank you Jeffrey. Its been a long day here in the UK but always nice to share with one and all wherever you are!!


  13. You’re welcome Jeffrey! You are most welcome friend. Its Spirit that is the real and only motivational force for good here within us all.


    1. How about forgiving others, as ourselves, to enlighten new compassion, and Unify Karmic divisive-gender role-reversal lifetimes Mercy?

    2. Mysticism is recognizing God and communing with him in every aspect and situation of life. This makes us realize more and more who he truly is for us and how beautiful his creation is, and that how important it is to take the role as stewards of his handiwork.

      1. To all of you who have been carrying on such supportive and instructive conversations. I hope to take a more active part now on the Blog. Thanks for all your prayers. I am considered in remission!
        In the Catholic world, we are now in the season of Lent, a period of preparation for the celebration of Eastertide, a 50 day period of trying to appreciate what the Resurrection of Christ really means to each one of us personally. For one thing, it means that now death is no longer permanent for any of us. AND that the life of each of us is permeated by the Living God, who loves us unconditionally, no matter what we have done or even will do. I struggle to let this fantastic fact sink in … my Lenten practice!

  14. My Thought for The Day
    Disease is a false believe in something separate from God. It is not in our God-nature, or in our God -being. God is the only Power and Life. I acknowledge and accept the Christ as my true identity, in whom there is no disease. It was never intended we should suffer disease.

    “He took away our illnesses and lifted our diseases from us” Math. 8.17

    1. Hi Karen, my take is: Mysticism is the process of transcending of the earthly and entering the realm of Love to put it bluntly. Its not a running away from responsibilities at all, it is the bringing of a higher energy to the everyday life and melding it with that life. Its a marriage of Spirit (Superconscious) and soul, (subconscious) where all things good can happen even without one asking. Love is vast beyond comprehension, and any kind of labelling or favouritism for sure. It is very ordinary in its extraordinariness.

      1. Beautifully stated John. Thank you. Mysticism is a Union with the Divine, which in turn makes all life on Earth Divine.
        Love is intensely extraordinary, and exquisitely simple.

    2. Thanks Robert. I am reminded of what Florence Scovel Shinn says, ” …to just stand still and watch the Salvation of the Lord”. (Law) The battle is God’s not man’s. Mysticism in a nutshell.

      1. Would you believe John, I have been just been reading Emma Curtis Hopkins?
        I looked up Florence. Those early metaphysical writers have been inspirational to my own spirituality.

        Thanks for sharing. We live to help and encourage one another.

    3. What a nice harmless infection to spread around Robert! In this cynical ‘know it all’ world, a smile can reach the most closed off mind and rejuvenate the most downtrodden heart…

      Bless you!

    1. Thank You, John for this inspiration to compliment with replacing the internet, within toward trusting Sovereign Conscience interconnecting to Our Sweet Beloved ONENESS Inner Net…

    1. Dear Ones,
      A mystic is one who, in some measure has attained conscious union with God.
      One who loves God with all their heart, all their soul, and all their mind.
      One who is wholly devoted to God, who lives, and moves, and breathes in God.
      One who, in some degree has forsaken the world to rest in the loving arms of the Beloved One.
      His or her role is to commune with God day and night, to pray without ceasing, and be a Light to the world.
      Light and Love

  15. Ye are the Light of the world.
    Is there any darkness in the Light? Is there any suffering, ill-health, or death in that Light? This Light is you and me if so be the Spirit abides within us. Be not afraid I am with you. I will never leave you or desert you. God is ALL. If God is ALL where, O where is sickness and suffering? I know not any.
    God is not in the whirlwind, not up in the sky, not on the other side, but right here appearing as you and me. Acknowledge Him in all thy ways and He will be your Health and Strength. God created ALL that is, and ALL that He created is Good, Healthy, Righteous. What He did not create has not been made. We can be sure He did not create illness or sickness. Thou art My Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. That Beloved Son is you and me. We are created in His image and likeness. That image and likeness is Whole, Healthy and Perfect. Is there any other image? I know not any.

  16. Thank you too Robert. I truly believe that the evolutionary energies are quickening worldwide and personal choices made for spiritual advancement in whatever area are becoming easier to make and live from. I’m sure this is no revelation!

    Many blessings

    1. Yes, John, I also believe there is a spiritual awakening taking place. Each individual in his or her own way. In organised religion or out , many are listening to the inner voice of their own consciousness. We are living in a revealing age.
      In Oneness

    2. I have come to understand that my spirituality is – and so my life is one of contemplation. However I do not have a strong feeling of belonging or of home and I must consider then who does that mean I am in this world?

  17. Hi Robert, that is such clear and direct guidance for you despite your resistance which always comes up when we are faced with unfamiliar happenings. When you have no choice but to allow a mysterious process to happen, that is the clearest wake up call of them all. I am reminded of the ‘Lightning Shamans’ of South America who find their pathway in an even more direct way.

    1. Hello John,
      I believe it is not uncommon for people to turn to the spiritual life when faced with death or serious illness or suddenly realise their own sinfulness.
      When it does happen there is no choice for that person but to follow, trust and obey.
      Thank you for your kind reply.
      Loving Peace

  18. Hi other Karen, welcome!

    Sorry for the confusion real Karen and Paul. It can get (understandably) quiet here, though the winds of Spirit doth blow through the ‘instrument’ that is Raven’s Bread online Community.

    1. Me too Karen. I just hated noise and arguments and used to cry my eyes out without any language spoken as I was too young. I must thought it was the end of the world. I think valuing peace and quiet places came organically for me from those childhood experiences. I went in the opposite direction; this has been my strength in innumerable events later on.

      Blessings for you both,

      1. Think I should say that I am new to Raven’s Bread and I too am named Karen – not sure if this is the page I should be posting my thoughts on solitude here or another page?

        Karen N

        1. Dear “Other” KAREN,
          Peace! So good to have you with the rest of the “ravens”! Very few of the readers of the newsletter want to belong to some kind of group – even a hermit group! – but nearly all feel like there is a strong bond of caring among the readership. As is said on the front page of the website: “We offer the option of connection without joining; of companionship without intrusion; of guidance without judgment.” Certainly we at the home nest feel the love, appreciation and support of everyone. Yes, this is a great place to share your thoughts on solitude. Know you are warmly welcomed and that we look forward to more of your sharing. Blessings on you and let us pray for one another! Karen KF

          1. Thank you for warm welcome.

            I discerned a religious call to traditional monastic life for several years – although it was an important step on my spiritual journey I did not feel called to make final promises.

            I like solitude and silence but I like to balance it with times of working and sharing with other people who also feel called to the contemplative way of being – I would like to live such a community life.

      2. I too did not like when people argued but I would say that the times I went off on my own were times when I felt I just needed to sit all on my own without any other influences and just drink in the world – usually I would go off and sit high in a tree and just listen to the world around me.

        1. How often we find astonishing similarities in our various journeys into solitude! As a youngster, I, too, would climb a tree out behind our barn, just to watch the world in stillness. During my high school years, I would frequently hear the Call to “come away to a lonely place” and would take the ten minute trek down to the creek which drained the fields so I could re-find myself and my Center. I, too, am “allergic” to loud arguments – I suspect that is because while I was between 1 and 2 years old, my parents were going through a bad patch and nearly split. My Dad suddenly realized he didn’t want the responsibility of a family and took off for the Merchant Marines. By the end of the war (WWII) however, he suffered a “conversion” thanks to my uncles and returned to Mom and I and my soon to be born sister. I’m glad to say my parents’ marriage lasted till death.

        2. Hi Karen, me too, that’s so uncanny! My love of trees and nature in general came from those early roots. Many will I’m sure echo that that but for our love and kinship toward Nature…, they would be in a different place. Blessings.

          1. I think the contemplative heart has a desire to meld especially with nature – where it is so clear to witness the majesty of God.

    2. Hello Ravens,
      I was a very reluctant hermit until the age of thirty when a deep spiritual experience found it’s way into my heart and consciousness. Slowly and resisting I lost everything. Now solitude is my companion, bread, meat , wine and water.
      Love and Blessings


    1. To all of you who are praying with us!
      Dear Ravens and all,
      Peace! Thank you, thank you! for your prayers. I have just begun Infusion Therapy with Rituxin (NOT chemo) but a very specific drug that goes after only lymphoma cells and (somehow) instructs them to stop replicating and to die. I just completed my first treatment with no adverse reaction during administration (4 hours) which usually happens only during the first or second administration. I came through with flying colors and will be scheduled for 8 weekly treatments. Thereafter another Pet scan and endoscopy will evaluate the results. Rituxin has a good record for no serious side effects and effectiveness in putting lymphoma into remission. Today was critical and your many prayers were dearly appreciated! I will always have to be alert to lymphoma breaking out elsewhere as it is in my system even in remission. But I should enjoy a better quality of life than I have had recently. Please praise and thank the Good Lord with us!!! We met a young couple with three small children – the wife has breast cancer and the baby is only one year old. Let us pray for everyone struggling with this destructive disease called cancer, including someone who wrote today and who was just diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer. May our hearts embrace them all in love! Karen & Paul

      1. good day- I have subscribed to the newsletter for a few years now and while checking out the website for the title of a book, found the blog-
        wanted you simply to know Karen and Paul that when I read of your trial with the cancer I have prayed for you- I am a nurse for the monks of St Josephs Abbey in Massachusetts- Cistercians- I sneak some extra time in the Infirmary chapel before our after my shift for such prayers-
        Peace to your heart as you, we, venture forth-
        gayle in masachusetts

        1. Hello Gayle, just a hello to you because I used to live at St. Joe’s Abbey in my late 20s. In the late 80s. I’m glad to know the infirmary has a nurse on duty.
          I would know the older monks; Abbot Damian, Fr. Isaac Keeley, Aelred,, Jude, etc.
          Please give them a hello from Tom O’Brien, from NY.
          They will remember. Please ask them for continued prayers as I am now a candidate to become a family brother at Assumption Abbey, in Ava, MO.
          My prayers to them and you also who I know takes good care of them. God Bless Gayle.

  20. ‘But first we have to walk the talk obviously’. Hmmm… Pondering…
    Walking takes willed, or, not thought about (because it’s easy) executive effort as well as being a given for bipeds – well I know the struggle to re-walk, the work of professionals alongside, their compassionate technical competence , their judgement for right balance of rest/action, the limitations imposed on daily tasks without ease of movement, the effort to keep other muscles functional, the imposed stillness to allow nature’s healing. Where there is enabling giftedness. All metaphor as well as reality, paralleling what you say, John. Sometimes we can’t walk the talk, sometimes in life there is, or looks like there is no preparation at all, at all. (I could write a long list). Sometimes we may be just dropped into the -black hole of life, of, or at least, with God, felt absent or present, in a twinkling of an eye. Life as previously known pretty well evaporates. Over our life, we each may experience one or more various and specific dark nights, physical, relational, environmental, emotional, each is and all are spiritual. Yes, we can come to taste the gift of the always present paradox of graced emptiness and the fullness in graced inner attending… In the compassionate heart of God…

  21. Karen and Paul, the empty vastness is a portal or exogate; its actually full and empty at the same time. Paradox is closest language comes explaining what ultimately is beyond utterings. The fullness is empty of all conditionings. But first we must be there to taste it for ourselves. A Dark Night for example, is a portal to somewhere brighter and better.

    No suffering is in vain unless we (so called)’fail’ to get out of our way to let Grace/Shakti do its work. Non resistance to what is, is the key. But first we must walk the talk obviously.

    Blessings of Oneness

    1. To all of you dear and caring friends, brothers and sisters in solitude. Each wise word you speak is received with gratitude and love. Though I have spent a life-time living with fibromyalgia, I must admit that lymphoma in the duodenum is quite a different challenge! Although (praise God) it is a slow-growing type, it proved resistant to radiation. After much prayer and consultation, we will try Infusion Therapy with Rituxin. This is not chemo and should be easy to tolerate if I can get through the first treatment without any reaction. Then it will be a matter of treatments once a week for from 4 – 8 weeks. Often lymphoma can be merely watched but because of the location of mine, something has to be done before it blocks food leaving the stomach or perforates the lining. Some minor bleeding is probably going on. Apparently the passage is narrowing. If all tests go well, I’ll have my first treatment on July 9th so prayers will be appreciated. Be assured that we keep all of you in our grateful prayers! Karen

  22. Oh Bonnie, thank you. Yes…

    Karen and Paul, the black hole of God is safe.
    holding you inside God’s love in the dark shadows of Love


  23. Dear Karen,

    Reading between the lines of the current newsletter, it appears that the news you received after Easter was not what you had hoped. I truly do know what those medical updates feel like.

    During the last six months of James’ life, we received a new medical body-blow nearly every week, some deeper depth of new pain, new suffering, new grief. He and I were both being mercilessly (or mercifully) stripped of everything which we had previously valued. Every sensory certainty was leveled. Our world as we previously experienced it was turned upside down and inside out.

    We were learning how strikingly different and alien was the landscape of the soul in contrast to the lush comfort of the senses. It’s as though we had once lived a marriage in the bounty of a rain forest and now existed on barren rock. None of the definitions we had previously held as true applied in this foreign land. I clearly remember thinking, “Anxiety now is my new stability, because it never goes away.” I remember marveling that “darkness is now the lamp unto my feet.” Stumbling was the new way of walking upright. The new definition of love was agony. Of necessity, we both were forced to affirm the ridiculous assertion that God Himself was our ever present awareness of abandonment. James and I were sunk together in the depths of the Dark Night of the Soul.

    We truly were being pulled ever deeper into the Black Hole of God where all the known laws of the senses and even the laws of the soul which we had previously imagined were all made null and void. Such a fierce and relentless gravitational pull threatened to destroy us both.

    But looking back on those endless months of ebony darkness, I see God everywhere. He was not only present, He saturated our very existence. There was simply no distance between Him and us. James and I were sunk in Him.

    I hope that you, Karen and Paul, can know that the darkness around you is His Darkness, and that the crushing weight you feel is the fierceness of His gravitational pull. As difficult as this may be to do, welcome every splinter from your mutual cross, because each one is a fiery dart of His love.

    My tears and love to you both,

  24. Dear Karen,
    I was saddened to learn of the medical challenges that have beset you since the last newsletter. However, the strength that is born out of the conviction that His will is the “food” that best nurtures our souls provides a certain calm amidst the tempest.
    At 71, I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It’s been a year of “stripping”. Alone, I am facing challenges that I never anticipated. When the toe of my soul stubs itself on fear, I know His presence, palpable and real.
    Please know that I keep both you and Paul in my prayers.
    A pair of robins has built a nest within view of my study! God’s riches are infinite!
    In expectancy of the “hatching”, my soul is uplifted and filled with joy! …and for a “Faustian” moment, time is “stayed”–Parkinson’s is reduced to a trembling shadow. The providences of God’s designs are revealed in each moment when our “eyes” are opened to see beyond the confines of the NOW. I see Eternity and the transcendence of the infinite in that little space of twisted twigs….and my soul is filled with HOPE!
    Blessings of Light and Love,

  25. Smiles & gratitude for the chance to give as well as receive with open, empty hands. Because, we will not pass this Way again!

  26. Daily you are in my prayers Karen. We are linked, all of us by our love of/for solitude; the silence haunts my depths, a call I cannot resist though the world and its mores go round and round, nothing new under the sun. Yet, there is another world that’s closer than heart beat, a world that awaits beyond the tempest of the mind, so very close, so very real, it blows the conditioned mind apart with its clear simple nothingness, that is the very quintessence of love which unites all Paths as One.

    1. Dear John,
      Peace! Your Comment of the 14th touches deeply, especially since it came while I was going through a bad patch. Things are more stabilized now. What you say about that “other world” is so true – an ineffable place that defies all words, yet we know more and more how real it is. I’ve been reading Thomas Merton’s Journals lately and what you say is an echo of many of his musings. God bless you … and let us pray for one another. Karen

  27. Dear Karen,
    So sorry to hear that cancer, “The Emperor of all Maladies,” has paid you an unwelcome visit. Cancer is so insidious and tenacious. May your brave spirit, good medical care and the prayers of many “Ravens” strengthen and support you so that your immune system can fight off this intruder.
    I am currently rereading Consider The Ravens with renewed appreciation for your giving voice to a way of life, a way of prayer, little known and understood that is emerging now in all corners of the world. The book continues to be a great gift of God to me. CAM BORTON

  28. Oh Karen, oh Paul,

    Somehow I had missed you are traveling this lymphoma journey. I am sorry. The prayer net God weaves in and around the world in and through us ‘ravens’ is living and vital. So at one level I didn’t need your information for God knows, and, for many years we (a global we) have been in the heart of mutual praye in God for you, with you..

    But thank.you Bonnie that I now know and will also ask my net of intercessors who are called to behold and beseech faithfully to join with specific prayer for you Karen and you Paul walking with Karen as spring on your part of the planet unfolds. (I am enjoying first red leaves and crisp mornings)

    May Gods blessings abound on all this Palm Sunday morning and through Holy Week


  29. Dear Karen,

    I was saddened to hear of your recent medical problem and shocked to learn that it blindsided you with no apparent symptoms. I can’t imagine the ordeal you went through for weeks on end. It must be a great comfort to have the strong support of Paul at your side, and to know that hundreds of us ravens are holding you in our hearts.

    Last year, through my husbands sufferings, I quickly learned that the medical environment offers innumerable situations when it is the patient who brings the peace of Christ to the staff, when what is often expected is just the opposite. I hope
    your situation affords many such opportunities for you to offer the world the strength and compassion you have personally evolved through decades of devoted service to our Lord.

    I am sorry about my tardy response, but please know that you are daily in my mind and heart. My best to you and to Paul,


    1. Dear Bonnie,
      Blessings as we stand at the beginning of Holy Week 2015! I truly appreciate your words of encouragement, guiding me to see that I can bring peace into medical offices where there is so much anxiety and fear. I went through a light course of radiation aimed at the lymphoma in the duodenum and near-by lymph glands. A month after the radiation was completed, I had another Pet Scan and expected to hear “All clear!” when we saw the oncologist for the results. The lymph glands seemed much improved but the duodenum was nearly the same. Six weeks after the scan, I’m scheduled for another endoscopy which will enable the doc who found the lymphoma to “eyeball” the situation and assess changes. That will be after Easter. In the meantime, I try to remain tranquil in the Lord’s hands, trusting He is at work here. The kind of lymphoma I have is non-aggressive and slow-growing and so far, has not created a blockage so we can see how much more good the radiation can still do. I feel a kinship with others fighting cancer that I never experienced before. And I also feel the gift of many “ravens” praying for me and through me, for many others. What a blessed “communion” we enjoy! Gratefully, Karen

      1. Dearest Karen,

        In the deepest solitude of my heart I embrace and hold the Solitude within your heart.


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Food for those in Solitude