I will soon be returning to New Melleray Abbey for a personal silent retreat. I have been doing this since 1993. Everyone asks me, “What does one do at a monastery?” I always tell them it is more a question of what one does not do. For one thing, the endless chatter and restless activity of sense overload eventually gives way to inner stillness and silence. In that silence, there is a great deal of life, and the authentic self emerges. It is a homecoming. It is a recovery of the soul.
There is something very interesting and unexpected about a recollected and contemplative lifestyle; the silence is bursting with the immediate personal presence of God. This fills the mind and soul with a greater joy than the bombardment of the senses we normally subject ourselves to.
There is a real and complete happiness to finding God in the silence. This hidden aspect of reality is the source of my greatest joy. It has become the center from which my most fulfilling relationships now derive their orientation. A life not completely of the world helps me live a meaningful life in the world. This is not for monks only.