Requiem for a Trappist Monk

Father Luke in the cloister.

Rest in peace, Father Luke Kot.Father Luke died tonight, at the age of 102.Father Luke was the last surviving of twenty Trappist monks who, almost seventy years ago, left Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky to take the midnight train to Georgia, arriving on a rainy day in Atlanta in March 1944 — the Feast of St. Benedict — to move into a makeshift cloister in a barn on an old plantation some thirty miles southeast of the city. From that humble beginning came the Monastery of Our Lady of the Hol … [Read more...]

Contemplative Prayer in Decatur

Wow. I feel so privileged to have been part of the first contemplative gathering at First Christian Church of Decatur, Georgia.It was a very simple thing, actually. There were over 20 of us (I counted 21, but someone else said 22, maybe I forgot to count myself) gathered together in one of the education rooms at the church. We sat in a circle and after introducing ourselves, we shared a communal exercise based on the ancient monastic practice of lectio divina (sacred reading). … [Read more...]

The Spirit of George and Jack

This past weekend I led a retreat at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit called "The Spirituality of George MacDonald and C. S. Lewis." Following Lewis's longstanding nickname, I affectionately referred to our topic as "The Spirit of George and Jack."Weekend retreats at the monastery typically include five conferences: one Friday evening, three on Saturday, and on one Sunday. Friday evening I gave a brief introduction to George MacDonald, generally regarded as the father of modern fantasy and … [Read more...]

Meeting Jane Tomaine

Episcopal priest Jane Tomaine has written a wonderful book on Benedictine spirituality called St. Benedict's Toolbox. Tomorrow she is presenting a one-day workshop on "Benedictine Spirituality: Living Intentionally in a Distracted World" here in Atlanta, and alas, I won't be able to attend — I'll be busy co-leading a retreat at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit on "the Wisdom of the Christian Mystics." As much as I love leading retreats at the Monastery, I was a wee bit grumpy about not being a … [Read more...]

Simplicity and Prayer

In the simple promises for the junior lay associates (Lay Cistercians) of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, we promise, among other things, to live "life in simplicity and prayer." I love that juxtaposition. Prayer and simplicity go together so beautifully, it seems to me, that one of the best ways to cultivate in our hearts the space for prayer is by allowing things to be simple. I don't mean simple in the sense of not very smart, but simple in the sense of what Taoists call wu-wei, or "going … [Read more...]

A Birthday Cake for Two Monks

Last week two monks of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit had birthdays. Father Anthony (who is the monastic advisor to the Lay Associates, of whom I am a member) turned a mere 83. But Father Luke, our last surviving founder (he's been at the monastery since it was established in 1944) turned 100!Needless to say, the monks have been celebrating, and on Sunday at our Lay Associates' Gathering Day, we treated these two elders to a cake & ice cream party. Here's a little video showing Father … [Read more...]

Inside the Shell

Mark Doty has written a wonderful poem called "A Green Crab's Shell." You can read it here. It's about finding a crab shell and wondering at the beautiful shock of "Giotto blue" found within it — the color of the sky, carried by the crab all life long and yet invisible to all (except God). It took the crab's death, probably at the beak of some hungry seagull, to reveal this lovely, hidden color. Doty goes on to muse about what kinds of treasures you and I carry, hidden within our skin, that only … [Read more...]


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