An Abbot’s Notebook


A few months ago I wrote to the abbot of Christ in the Desert monastery. For years I have been reading his weekly letters. They are deep and inspirational as they describe both the life in the monastery and the Abbot’s personal reflections on his struggles to maintain a Benedictine spirituality, raise money, and the development of other monasteries under his care. What is remarkable is the transparency of his soul. Like a diamond the impurities he reveals add to the beauty of his life. Recently he has been encourage to publish these letters in a book. He complained that he did not have time so I offered to edit the letters. He accepted and I am honored to edit these nearly 700 letters written over a 13 year period of time. I did not realize what a big task this would turn out to be. I do not mind as I have time to do it while living in China. My teaching schedule is not very demanding and my research on ancient inscription occurs mostly on the weekends. Most satisfying is that these letters have become a spiritual exercise for me. I am deeply moved by their honesty and beauty. After several weeks I have finished reading them and selecting significant passages. I have arranged them in to topics on prayer, obedience, poverty, chastity, perseverance, work, death, freedom, listening, monastic life, and many other subjects and chapters.

He wrote: 

Living well is an art. Living well is wisdom. As we continue to live, we need to seek this wisdom and develop this art within ourselves.

I have used this quote of Abot Philip Lawrence on the title page of the book. I believe it fully describes the purpose and wisdom ofthe book.


About daleinchina

Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences.
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