(Irony alert! I’m about to use words to describe the wordless.) When I went to Sky Farm in April, I was afraid God wouldn’t meet me there, and in a way, God didn’t. I arrived uncomfortably full of other people’s words about God. I needed interior privacy, a time to let other people’s ideas wait outside. “I needed the silence to be deafening,” Jennifer Knapp once said in an interview, and I can relate. (I wish the interviewer had asked her more about that silence.) Part of me was ready to abandon the whole idea of a God who can be known. What are we playing at, hanging words all over God? Maybe arriving with that question is what opened me to the one who did meet me at Sky Farm: the Great One, plain and powerful. A silent and undecorated presence, pouring out life—life that includes death. Near this presence, I knew myself to […]

Read More

That one thing…

Luke 10:41-42 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “…only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” At Sky Farm, I would set the meditation timer on my phone, then just sit. Or kneel. But what then? During the first few days, these silences were about letting the words drain away—or trying to, anyway. Words about God and prayer and Christianity. Words from books, sermons, blogs, videos, stories, songs, classes, conversations. Millions of words, accrued to me over decades. So I tilted my head to one side to let them pour out of my ear and into the ground. I knelt with my forehead to the carpet and let the words fall out the top of my head and disappear into the silence. Sometimes words are just clutter, something that blocks our view. In The Wisdom of the Desert, Thomas Merton […]

Read More

A trip to Sky Farm Hermitage

All I do is find my thread, you know. ….—Father Dunstan, the monk who inherited Sky Farm Last week I had the chance to spend five nights at Sky Farm. Deep solitude. Deep silence. By deep silence, what I actually mean is the wind in the oaks, the California quail yelling chi-CA-go!, chi-CA-go!, the wild turkeys clucking and purring outside my window, the acorn woodpeckers jingling the birdfeeder as they gripped it with feet and tail to peck at the sunflower seeds. And under all these, a baseline silence, full, weighted, and strong, like an enormous magnet inside the Earth. Like gravity itself—I could hear it at Sky Farm. Bird calls and cicadas and wind above and in sync with the silence during the day, and in the night, inside my hermitage with the windows shut: silence. Blank and heavy, molten and rolling. On my first day, a quiet interior voice gave […]

Read More