In northern New Mexico, down a 17 mile dirt driveway, at the end of a canyon sits a very special place where 40 monks keep the hours and pray the psalms. That place is called Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

Here is Father John tending the hops, collected from local canyons, grown to make Monk’s Wit
Ale. Benedictine monks have been mixing a life of prayer, work, and study for the last 1500 years. I like to think it is a bit like traveling back in time when I visit this monastery. It is a contemplative monastery, and they respect a rule of silence. Deep in the desert, and off the grid, there no road noise, or buzzing of machines. I expected the silence to be oppressive, but I experienced it as a true gift. The quiet makes it easier to quiet one’s mind, and it makes their chanting that much more beautiful.

When I showed this painting to Father John he quoted John 15: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

So I post this painting today to remember these brothers, especially today on St. Benedict’s feast day.

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