FROM THE HERMIT'S HUT
BOOK ONE - HOME-SPUN HERMIT
There are many secular and religious hermits in this new century. We are not well-known, nor do we want to be. Some have contact with other hermits who live nearby; they are of like mind and heart and are sources of moral support, encouragement and spiritual friendship. There is not a lot of intrusion on another hermit's space. Hermits are whole people, knowing themselves well.
Some hermits go it alone. They espouse not only a poorness in spirit but actual poverty which frees them up to live this lifestyle totally depending on God for all their needs. Most have their way of surviving, be it a part-time job, or a writing job to make ends meet...or have a sponsor or church that occasionally looks out for them. Those in distant places chop their own wood...plant food in due season and have well water...if they are lucky. Oh! I almost forgot, they have outhouses too. I am the indoor type with a bathroom not in my hermitage, but close by, in the upper level of the main house. We are all really poor and we are all really rich. "Where your treasure is, there is your heart." We live foremost and primarily for ongoing "oneness" with God, the Absolute One. OCCASIONALLY seeking God is a long-forgotten aspect of hermits' lives.
We are not running away from society. We are "people people." We have come to a point in our lives where we fit or crowd all of mankind into our small hermitages. We zero in on the world and all its wounds and lift them up to God making intercession. However, before our intercessory prayer there is another mode of praying that motivates all hermits to live as they do...to love God, to praise God, to worship God and then to love our neighbor by lifting them up to the Lord in prayer. We are actually professional pray-ers, if there is a thing called professional about it. There can be, only if the accent is on the word, professing belief in God and not on ourselves as pray-ers. Eventually the whole life of the hermit becomes one ongoing and constant prayer. Formal prayer is included in our lives, but not forced. Do lovers force thoughts or words on their beloveds? Sometimes it is enough for lovers to just "be" with each other.
God does not need us: we need God. God is complete in every way. He is "all" everything! Hermiting is a gift from God to us. He just lets us do it. He lets us deny ourselves joyfully and willingly out of pure love for Him. We joyfully and willingly follow Him. Crosses are everywhere. We do not run from them but run to Him and find beauty unheard of, as He always over-compensates with His love at our slightest acts of love. We find peace and deep appreciation of the greatest beauty surrounding us...to the smallest critter crawling across our floor. With each breath He gives us, we sigh in gratitude for His Holy Spirit with Whom a hermit lives. All Christians are called to this Love. We recognize the connection of all in ALL, Who is God.
There is another type of hermit who is attached to a religious community. After many years in their service of the Lord, they know deep within the call to total solitude to live a life of deep contemplation...deep, loving praise and oneness with God. Some religious communities combine the two types of life by permitting their brothers, priests and sisters to engage in both the active life and then for a time to withdraw and enter into the solitary life. Some even leave their orders to embrace the solitary life after having spent many years in the cloister or active life. "If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart."
Although we wait upon the Lord, we are well aware of our human frailities, having a real sense of our nothingness. Before God we already have vast experience in the forgiveness, the mercy and total love of God for us. There is no grandeur in being, at least not for me. It is a calling, a commitment as with any vocation. There are struggles...dry periods of prayer and living. We keep on keeping on. It can be terrifying at times waiting for God to provide. As with David, our sins are also always before us when selfishness crops up its ugly head. Self-will and pride try to do a number on the hermit. The more you know yourself and know yourself as a redeemed sinner in the Lord Jesus, you can weather any storm. We are never alone. We keenly feel it sometimes, but we know, we know. We have met with so many of the Devil's tricks. There is the one when you might think yourself insane to be doing what you are doing. You know, you and holiness do live on the same street--but only One is holy. We are tempted and so are all Christians. Confidence in the sacrifice of the Cross gives us all the courage we need. My response to all of the above is an instant refocusing of my NOW in the complete adoration of God by saying: "Let us remember we are in the presence of God; let us adore His Divine Majesty." You will be amazed where Jesus takes you with just that short, but full, aspiration.
We have some brothers and sisters who are not Christian...but we are still brothers and sisters before God. He made all of us. They too espouse lives of solitude and reach out to touch the Hand of God. Truth will triumph in each hermit's soul. We are seekers of Absolute Truth.
As a Christian, secular Catholic hermit, I believe the church is holy. Frail people run the church at times and frail people fill the pews, too. We do not need to worry as the Head of the Church is Jesus Christ. Enough said there! Those who run it and those who sit in the pews are all members of that body. We are members and Jesus is the Head. We do not go it alone. "I am the Vine and you are the branches." We are soooo connected! Sometimes I think there is more unity than we actually perceive. There is only "One God."
Though we are many, we are all one body...in Christ Jesus.
There are many people who are not full-time but part-time hermits. Some are married and have the same desire for solitude and an intense prayer life. They use retreats and getaways for short periods of time to rendezvous with the God of their hearts. All hermits are conscious people, aware people. They are whole. All hermits are lovers of silence, inward and outward. Simplicity becomes a way of life.
Right now, this branch in His church is in a preparation stage for moving into a new permanent hermitage--still called "Spirit of Love Hermitage." It will be located in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. I can hardly wait to get there and sing to the Lord...dance before Him...clap my hands in joyful praise...chant my prayers of praise and thanksgiving...and rock out as I do occasionally before His Great Majesty, my Love and Lord, Jesus Christ! My sister and brother-in-law are providing me with their garage which already has a chapel in it. I am sure there are angels there awaiting this happy hermit's arrival. I am grateful to my sister, (a Hermit at Heart), and her husband. There will be complete autonomy for me. My life and theirs will remain separate except for going to church. The big question is when am I going to be able to leave Oregon to pursue my dream? It may take anywhere from two months to six months to be on my way to New Jersey. There is one person left at "Isaiah 58 House," looking for a new place to live. There are not many doors open to house disabled people. It is time for me to get off the active battlefield and do spiritual warfare another way...in a life of seclusion and of prayer. God will provide this person with the right place. His will, will be done. I wait on the Lord. "Be it done unto me according to Thy Word."
We are living in an almost empty apartment now. We have only the basics and some of those are going to be gone in a few days. Most of the furniture has been given to my son and friends. TV, VCR, computer, movies, and so much more, all gone! I will have a radio and cassette player as I love to hear the word spoken outloud, plus sing along with the hymns and songs of praise. Most of my clothes are going to a women's shelter. I have cleaned out the pantry and given food to the poor. I have a cleaning team coming to help me get the place in good shape before I leave. "Stuff" means so little to hermits. Faith is one of our uppermost exercises as we live in total dependence upon God, His divine providence, for everything.
No doubt, I will not be taken seriously by some, ridiculed by others, thought insane by more and even possibly looked upon as holy, by the holy themselves. How charitable some people are! I know keenly my sinful nature. I am in need of God's mercy all the time. Self-glory and gratification are not the reasons for hermiting - only God is, and our union with Him in a constant and ongoing relationship of deepest love. We long for fusion with God where we become so sensitive and full of love that sin is not our willful choice. "His Grace is sufficient for me." Don't try hermiting without Him! That sounds like the traveler's check commercial on TV. This life is contrary to the world view. It is not contrary to God's will. I serve only one Master, God.
My life experience has had much sin entwined with it. I did have a conversion experience which put my feet in the direction of following Jesus and seriously avoiding sin. I gave my life to Jesus and with all the sincerity asked Him to be my Lord and personal Savior. I have consciously tried to turn from sin to the best of my ability and with the help of God's Grace; with the help of His merciful love and forgiveness. I think most hermits have had some kind of awakening or inner experience to where they realize their sinfulness. They are not destroyed by it, because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. The genuine awareness, the kind that produces change in the soul, opens a door that the Hermit MUST travel through There is no other way to go and be true to oneself and to God. Assisting at the holy sacrifice of the Mass takes on a whole new experience. The Eucharist is a giving time...Jesus to me and me to Jesus. I long for each Holy Communion with all my heart.
I spent eight years in the convent in an active order. I was a teacher most of my life. It was when I was an aspirant in a semi-cloister that I received the call to live the Hermit life. I was saving up money to go to France to do this but got greatly sidetracked for MANY years. I married, have two children and six times I'm a Grandma, so far. I married a second time and it lasted only six months or so. How wonderful God is to take this putrid sinner, clean her up and give her the keys to the Kingdom. I was finally free up to follow the young dream now turned old. For four years I lived by the beach in Oregon and finally became a hermit. In 1984 to 1988 I resided in Spirit of Love Hermitage, By the Sea. It was in 1988 that the Lord called me to leave the hermitage and open a care home where the "worst off are cared for by those better off." It was for people who were HIV+ and for those living with AIDS. This obedience lasted seven full and exciting years. So many came to love Jesus! I had 36 cents to my name when I was talking to the realtor. God most assuredly did provide in a big way, thanks to my family who supported this effort. Two sisters bought the house in which this ministry to His beloved children with AIDS took place. When the doors closed, God rewarded them with a good profit from the sale of the house. The house was called "The House of Hope."
Back on the beach I went, but it was only for a short time while living in a trailer park within sight of the water. The direction I was to go, was East. I had not lived with my family for over twenty years. It was time to get re-acquainted. It was time also to have some super major surgery done. After I was fully recuperated, I returned to Oregon for a vacation. Guess what? It has lasted two years. Long vacation! For one year of it, Isaiah 58 House came into being. It is a home for the disabled, mentally and physically disabled. There is only one here now, and he is looking for a new place to live. Praise and thank you, Jesus, it is now time to return to full-time hermiting. It is worthless to push ahead of the Lord or to lag behind Him. I so lovingly desire to see the day dawn when I am in my new hermitage. It is like waiting for the dawn of your wedding day to arrive.
All lovers of the Lord, to me, are hermits of a sort. They possess the longing for Him alone, above all else. I think we all, and each, are the hermitages for Jesus to come and live inside. Most cannot afford to go and live alone in solitude. For those who want to go and need to go and thirst for this type of life, they should first pray about it, and then move in the direction He opens to your soul. Hermits do not have a specific handbook for becoming hermits. Each person is unique, no two alike. The journey to the aspiring hermit will eventually lead to the fulfillment of your desires. From experience, I can tell you that the inspiration, if it comes from God, will ONE DAY be realized! Look at me...63 years old...handicapped with severe arthritis and heart problems, and I'm still pursuing the life of oneness, solitude and total immersion into Jesus. One mark of a real hermit is JOY. "The Joy of the Lord is my strength."
Take Me Into You, Jesus
Take me into You, Jesus
Where no sound sounds,
Where words are worthless;
Where there is You alone.
Take me into You, Jesus
Where time matters not,
Where no darkness resides;
Where motion is useless.
Take me into You, Jesus.
Wipe me out by
Taking me into You,
J E S U S.
"I live yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."
Two Holy Ones
"Perfection" for me has suffered,
Pure Mary sighs as Jesus "sins";
All holiness gave up His life,
Tears flood my body 'n' soul's eyes.
Miles away from perfection,
My sullied soul confesses sins;
Mother and Son each sacrifice,
As her son our salvation wins.
..."Behold Your Mother."
There is no pretending
More, too much offending
My will needs more bending
Prayer is, to love attending
Quit all self-defending
My soul needs mending
Into mercy I'm blending
One here and never ending
"Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believed." John 20: 29
Saying, "I love You" is not needed,
"Being" in Him, not doing, is real;
All knowing is His alone to share,
Your love, Lord, to worthless me, reveal.
"Be still and know that I am God."
Mary So Pure
His mother pure,
By her one Son
Gave us the Cure:
All sin has gone.
"Love the Lord your God, and walk in all His ways, and keep His commandments." Joshua 22:5
Take time for the wonder,
Slow down to smell the rose;
Stop, and hear the quiet,
In God, soul, do repose
"When He shall appear, we shall be like Him." I John 3:2
My morning offering is said,
I listen to the birds make theirs;
I join all creation in praise,
Dear sounds to the Creator's ears.
"The Earth s the Lord's and the fullness thereof." Ps. 24:1
On The Way Home
Philadelphia, New York, Connecticut,
Chile, S.A., Oklahoma, Massachusetts,
Korea, Colorado, Oregon,
New Mexico, New Jersey, and Tennessee.
Florida, Canada, Mexico,
California, Japan, Curacao,
Peru, Ohio, Nebraska,
Texas, Washington State, Maryland,
I have lived there or stayed there,
With many stops in between;
It's awesome there's so many
Places that my feet have been.
More than the many places,
Are people I did affect;
I hope good outweighs the bad,
and in heaven they're "Elect".
"Fight the good fight, lay hold on eternal life."
Mary-Constance Update: The Hermit at Heart has since traveled twice to Cuernavaca, Mexico, to visit several orphan children. She is now opening a house mission to the poor and HIV+, while going by faith for the means to do so. She writes: "Friends of Compassion: This mission [LA CASA DEL ABRAZO DE DIOS, HOUSE OF THE EMBRACE OF GOD] can open in a house or a 'hole in the wall' in November, if a $300 monthly lack is filled (either is okay by me). I did not come here for vacation or cultural exchange...but to feed the poor and care for those with AIDS. I prefer the house. A monthly pledge or spradic LOVE GIFT would help TREMENDOUSLY! Please read two favorites of mine...Isaiah 58:6-12 and Matthew 25:35-40 (I am not a tax write-off, just a person trying to live the Word of God). My loving gratitude, M-C (Together We Care)" She can be corresponded with at: MARY-CONSTANCE, FRIENDS OF COMPASSION, 186 Cedar Grove RD, Mullica Hill, NJ 08062. Tel: 856-478-6726. The House will open in the Fall of 2003.--Editor
<3>Further installments of "From the Hermit's Hut" will follow as they are received. Please check back later for more on the excitement of the hermiting life. As Mary-Constance's life testifies so vividly in her latest venture of faith in Mexico, hermiting can be compatible with the most challenging circumstances imaginable!--Editor
Second ujpdate 2005: Mary-Constance found a suitable apartment for her house of compassion. She resides in Cuernavaca, but has paid a visit to her sister in New Jersey to save the apartment expense for a few months in order to return. She has taken care of a very elderly lady who had no one else to look after her, even though handicapped herself. She continues to be a light of Christ's compassion and love in that community. Her very being there is a miracle of God's grace and provision.--Editor
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