It has been much longer than I had anticipated on getting the next blog posted. The book project was much more involved than I could have imagined, but the result has been worth the effort. As most of you know, the book is completed and is now available for purchase. The ultimate "goal" of this project was to introduce a
wider audience to the Trappist monasteries and to contemplative practices. My wife and I have been given such a wonderful gift with the opportunity to visit each of the Trappist communities and we want to share that gift with the world. We hope through this book, those that are not familiar with this contemplative order of monks and nuns will be intrigued and hopefully inspired to make a visit. In today's world of twenty-four hour news cycles and all the information available through the internet and ever connected devices, it seems more important than ever that we find ways to "disconnect" from the
world and renew our spiritual selves. Our journey to the monasteries in 2015 was a tremendous introduction into a more contemplative life. I would like to tell you that since that time I have maintained a consistent practice, but that is simply not the case. I fell back into the trappings of our culture and my mindset of needing to always be "doing" something. With the release of the book, I am committing myself back to my practice. I am thankful for my weekly men's Centering Prayer group here in Fayetteville that has given me the structure to renew my practice once a week. I now plan to center every day for the next few months before moving into a twice daily routine. I share this with you so that you might have hope of someday establishing your own practice. It is not easy, but you must not give up hope. Find time whenever you can and hopefully, over time the discipline to commit will develop.
I hope those that have purchased the book enjoy the beauty of these communities. I have tried to provide enough information about each of the monasteries so that if you are so moved, you can begin to learn more about any particular monastery that you are interested in. Of course, you can always email me with any questions you might have. I also designed the book as a contemplative "tool". The writing is minimal on purpose. Words can often get in the way and get trapped in our thoughts, distracting us from a larger meaning and purpose. As you go through the book, do so very slowly. The first section will introduce you to each of the communities. There is basic information about location, when they were founded and what each community does to support themselves. The rest of the chapters contain only photographs, with just enough information so that you know the setting of each photograph. The first time through the book, try not to read too much if at all. That information is permanent and will be there any time you pick up the book. Instead, pause on each photograph and become aware of any feelings, emotions or thoughts that come to you as you view that particular photograph. Learn to enjoy the photograph (or not enjoy it) for what it is without the need to "know" about the image. This is the practice of contemplation. Becoming mindful of the thoughts that are racing through our heads and instead of processing them all subconsciously, become aware of those thoughts.
If you try this practice, you might notice right away how quickly your eyes want to move from the image to the words describing the image. It is actually quite amazing!! We have an inherent need to "know". Do not be bothered by this. It is quite normal and will take effort to focus only on the image. If find yourself getting frustrated, I created a chapter at the end to help you!! The last chapter of the book is titled, "Into the Silence". In this chapter, I only have the photographs with no descriptions. If initially, you find that you cannot keep from reading the descriptions, simply move to this chapter. This will be a good introduction for novices of contemplative practices to become more aware of your thoughts and your desire to "know" things. Hopefully then, when/if you begin a practice like centering prayer, you will not be overwhelmed by all the thoughts you will notice as you sit in silence for twenty minutes!
And now, I am off to do some centering myself. I hope you find this information useful and that "Silence is Spoken Here" will assist in your other contemplative practices. As always, feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions you might have about the book, the Trappists or any other information you are seeking. Now, enjoy the silence! :)
- Paul Green