Solitude and silence
The desert tradition profoundly influenced the Celtic monks; while many monks were unable to go to the literal desert, they sought out the wild edges and solitary places of wilderness.
There are many sacred places in Ireland and Wales with the word “dysert” or “disert” in the name.
This is the Irish word for desert and refers to a place of solitude and silence, a retreat for those who long for a more intimate encounter with God and where attention can be cultivated with few distractions.
There are many stories of Irish monks who lived as hermits for a time, including Sts. Colman and Kevin, who both lived in caves and had animals as their companions.
In daily life
Begin by making a commitment to spending 5–10 minutes each day in silence. Turn off any notifications from your phone or computer and ask others in your house not to disturb you. Then extend this by finding a whole morning or afternoon to go to a nearby retreat centre or monastery and listen deeply to the sacred stirrings within.
Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
Quiet Lord, all praise and honour be yours as you announce your presence in silence. The oceans roar, volcanos explode, and the thunder thunders, but you sit with us in peace when we are alone, respecting our silence our hearts, letting our voices be heard even when we do not speak. Teach us to be like you. Do not let us project our anger, our pain, our emptiness on those around us. Do not let our childish way yield to childish violence. Let us honour your peace. Let us mirror your adult attitudes. That we might one day be adults ourselves. Through the power of your Holy Spirit and in Jesus’ name, Amen.