I recently visited the lake for a few days. Near sunrise and dusk, I watched the cloudy-white mist glide slowly across the water between the mountains.
I love the Appalachian mountains, where my roots grow deep. I live inside an ever-changing icon. Every green thing, every leaf and blade of grass, points me to God, who created all things and dwells among us.
I often find myself looking at a scene or driving down a country road and thinking, "This would be a wonderful place for a monastery." In the hills we find silence, touched by the sound of birds and breeze. The blue sky arches above the earth's browns, greens, and yellows. Red, orange, and purple flowers are scattered about. Each piece seems to rest in the right place. God is here. This is a good place for prayer. It’s a good place to work and encounter the wonders of life.
Monks are friends of both the Creator and the creation. I've heard of monks like St. Seraphim of Sarov who, through the Holy Spirit, became so gentle, loving, and peaceful that the wild animals in the forest befriended them. Although the world has fallen into chaos, these prayerful saints lived harmoniously with the animals as though it were still Paradise.
A monastery here would be good for the monks who strive to pray without ceasing, shed themselves of their own prideful self-centeredness, achieve divine enlightenment, and experience theosis, union with God.
A monastery would also be good for the people in both the surrounding country and in the nearest city. It seems to me that one reason people in my generation are so apathetic about their own spiritual health is that they're so busy with distractions, disconnected from places of peaceful rest, and immersed in the quicksand of secular culture. Young Americans are enslaved to a harmful worldview, reinforced by friends, the media, and the culture.
A monastery in the mountains would offer people a place of refuge, somewhere to run to, away from an environment that nurtures pride, self-centeredness, chaos, and confusion. People need a quiet place, a holy place, where they can reorient themselves, reconnect with their souls, look honestly at their own hearts, and allow their ever-loving Creator God to reach deep within them to heal their hurts. They need to disconnect themselves from a world full of ignorance and misguided ideas so they can seek, find, and be changed by the Truth who sets us free. A monastery in these very hills would provide us with a place of constant prayer for the benefit of our nation and the whole world, a world that needs guidance, divine help, and peace.
Yes, this would be a wonderful place for a monastery.
Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
Copyright © 2006 by Dana S. Kees. Photograph copyright © 2006 by Dana S. Kees.
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