This past week, Sister Sheila was able to enjoy four days of silent retreat at the Monastery of Bethlehem in Livingston Manor, NY : no WiFi, no cell phone service, no traffic noise, no conversations except with God.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul.

In winter, the guest facilities are heated by an exterior wood-burning furnace. The woodshed containing the woodpile and furnace also form a kind of outdoor worship/meditation space.

A bas-relief of John the Baptist graces one corner. He carries a scroll saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.”

To the right of John the Baptist is a line drawing of a monk praying, next to which is the following text: “God is the soul of our soul: that is the source that gives it life ++ It is there that we must seek him + it is there that we shall find him without end + That is what the saints did + They kept themselves before the face of the living God. And God thus contemplated by an interior regard communicated himself to them and lived in them ++ It can be so with us. All we need to do is make an act of faith and of love.: a simple movement in the depths of our soul that we call forth from time to time+++ A monk

On top of the woodpile is a huge plywood panel. An icon of the resurrection is in the upper left-hand corner, with the text of Mark 16: 2, 5-7 in the margins.

On the rest of the panel is written the following text, in beautiful calligraphy:
“He manifested himself alive + Whether we believe or not + we belong to God + Whether we feel it or not + he exists + he is MY self + he is my God + he is my Lord + And in the moments that seem dark to us + even in the heart of times where God does not exist for us + God does exist + As he was for the Prophets + the Apostles + the Saints + so is he for us + as small, sinful + humble as we can be. + When the sun had set + darkness had fallen, a burning furnace + a flaming torch passed between the parts.”
(Gen. 15:17)

The deer are very tame. You can get close enough to hear them munching grass.

The Blessed Mother is everywhere present.