Silent Retreat

In preparation for an upcoming interview about my book, Chasing My Father, I have a list of questions that I’ve been asked, and I’ll be sharing my responses here on my blog.

Question #5. Your book opens in upstate New York where you are staying at a monastery making a silent retreat. That sounds awfully austere. Tell us why these times of solitude are important.


I attend worship services at the Abbey of the Genesee whenever I’m in upstate New York. In 2009 I spent four days in a silent retreat, staying at Bethlehem House for the first time. The furnishings are sparse with a twin bed, desk, chair and reading light, but it provides the perfect place to hike, hear the birds sing, and listen for God’s voice.

The monks gather five times each day for worship, and I especially enjoy the service at dusk, Compline, when we thank God for his grace and mercy throughout the day and ask for a good night’s rest. As I walk back to Bethlehem House in the near dark, the silence drowns out the other sounds of life, and my soul becomes an empty vessel, ready to receive His wisdom.

I admire the monks for their lifestyle, but I don’t want to glorify it. They are called to withdraw from the world, but instead, most of us are asked to identify with the world. In John 17:15 we hear, “My prayer,” he said to his Father, “is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

The monks’ lives at the Abbey show me truths that seem counterintuitive:

When I serve others, I experience freedom,
When I lose myself in love, I find myself,
When I die to my own self-centeredness, I begin to live.

I make silent retreats at the Abbey because I need to be reminded regularly of how to live my life in the world.



A Note to My Readers: Have you read Chasing My Father? If you have a question, please enter it in the “comments” below. Click on this link for ordering information for the book.

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