The Calling

My Journey to the Hermit Life

“You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other.” – John Adams, to Thomas Jefferson, 1813

“I never explain anything!” – Mary Poppins

I don’t remember a voice
On a dark, lonesome road
When I started this journey so long ago
I was only just trying to outrun the noise
There was never a question of having a choice

– Mary-Chapin Carpenter, The Calling

Those first two quotes, even though they seem to be saying opposing things about explanation, both express something true about our experience of faith in general, and about being called by God in particular. On the one hand, we feel a desire to express our experience of faith whenever God blesses us in some way. Recall how the two disciples at Emmaus immediately return to Jerusalem after recognizing the Risen Lord in their midst, so that they can tell the others what they just encountered, and hear from the others their experiences of the Risen Lord as well. Faith seeks to be shared, and yes, explained in some fashion.

Mary Poppins has a point, however. There is something about faith that eludes explanation. Whatever we may say about it – as true as it may be – seems so inadequate compared to what we have been given in Christ. Moreover, not everyone will understand our explanation, no matter how carefully we word it. God always goes beyond our words. To those who understand, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not, no explanation is adequate. Continue reading “The Calling”

State O’ Maine, Land O’ Hermits?

Maine and Hermits (and one Knight-ed hermit in particular)

Oh, Pine Tree State
Your woods, fields and hills
Your lakes, streams and rockbound coast
Will ever fill our hearts with thrills
And tho’ we seek far and wide
Our search will be in vain
To find a fairer spot on earth
Than Maine! Maine! Maine!

-from State of Maine Song, by Roger Vinton Snow

This quote is from the official State of Maine song. (Yes, Virginia, there really is such a thing!) It briefly lists ¬†some of the natural attributes that make this state so appealing to both residents and visitors alike, “natives” and those “from away”. Tourism is important to Maine’s economy. A good number of people who retired early have moved to Maine (especially the midcoast) from other states. Then there are the hermits. Continue reading “State O’ Maine, Land O’ Hermits?”

Hermits in Diocesan Life

Feast of St. Anthony

Recently, in a book I was reading, I came across an account of a conversation between a diocesan hermit and a priest friend of his. Apparently, they were in the midst of comparing their two vocations. At one point, the priest said to the hermit, “I’m committed to the diocese and to my bishop. You aren’t accountable to anyone. Must be nice!” The priest added that he had heard that from his own bishop.

Whether or not the priest had really heard that from his bishop, his comment is one example of how the hermit life is not well-understood in today’s Church, even among people who could be expected to know better. This lack of understanding is no surprise, either. Hermits are relatively few in number. Besides, the very nature of their vocation means that their life may not be known except to the few who may know them personally.¬† Continue reading “Hermits in Diocesan Life”