A few summers ago I met two hermits when I went to a Monastic Institute in Collegeville, MN. Both are women, one in her mid-fifties, the other, Sr. Jeremy Hall OSB, is now in her late 80s and probably could be called a “retired hermit”. By that I mean that she is back living communally with the Benedictines of St. Benedict monastery.
I got to know the younger hermit a little over a few days as we discussed her life, our poetry and spiritual direction. She goes out of her house once a month for groceries and spiritual direction with Sr. Jeremy. I think she has been a hermit for almost 20 years. I found her to be very down to earth and then shy and then very observant. Our conversations followed a particular rhythm that was quite comfortable for me.
I only greeted and had small talk with Sr. Jeremy. But,now I feel I’m getting to know her because I’ve chosen to do sacred reading of her book Silence, Solitude, Simplicity: A Hermit’s Love Affair with a Noisy, Crowded and Complicated World (Liturgical Press, 2007). I’m still in the first section called -A Benedictine Way to God- in which she covers many of the Benedictine charisms which we discussed at our last Oblate Day in Rock Island. The next two sections are called Desert Spirituality and God’s Questions. I look forward early each morning to reading a few paragraphs because I know I will be fed. Sr. Jeremy writes in a quintessentially Benedictine manner I think backing up her wise insights with very relevent and numerous quotes. I am so struck by her profound grappling with the Rule.
Some days, when the yearing for solitude and for prayer time fills me I wish I could be in a hermitage. I’ve imagined being a hermit (a mature one already!!). Have you ever imagined that? Have you met a hermit? I hope some of you will pick up Sr. Jeremy’s book.