home away from home

Many people ask me why I call this ’17 spaces.’ The reason for this is that for every Trappist Monastery I have traveled to, I have felt it to be a free space for me to explore, learn, grow, ask hard questions of myself and the world, and ultimately deepen my sense and understanding of love and the importance that holds.

I have found that encountering free space in my life has been the most enlightening provision for self discovery. With meetings of this free space, I am allowed to be fluid, to be right or wrong, to ask or not ask, to empty and fill my mind, to challenge societal imposed traditions, to grasp gigantic concepts in few or no words, to smile at the beauty of a stream, to ignore the rush of the cars, etc. To me, free space never tells one what is right or wrong, it simply provides the limitless bounds for one to discover what is right or wrong for them.

These photos are from the Monastery in Peosta, IA.

the lonely tree

Published by Cassidy Hall

Cassidy Hall (MA, MDiv, MTS) is an author, filmmaker, podcaster, and holds a Masters of Divinity, Masters of Theological Studies, and Masters in Counseling. Born and raised in Iowa, she now works at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Indianapolis where she is pursuing ordination in the UCC. Throughout her time at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, she worked as a Teaching Assistant while studying for her MDiv and MTS degrees (December, 2021). During her time at seminary, she also served as the Secretary of the International Thomas Merton Society and continues to serve on the board of Enfleshed. Cassidy co-authored Notes on Silence (2018) and has had her work featured in devotionals including most recently: Thirsty, and You Gave Me Drink; Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C, from Clear Faith Publishing (2021). Her essays have been published in the Christian Century, The National Catholic Reporter, Convivium Journal, The Thomas Merton Seasonal, The Thomas Merton Annual, and she has also been a contributor for The Huffington Post and Patheos. Before pursuing her MDiv and MTS in Indianapolis, Cassidy lived in Los Angeles where she worked on the production team of the documentary feature film, In Pursuit of Silence. The film’s success on the festival circuit and beyond led to its worldwide theatrical release. Her directorial debut short-film, Day of a Stranger, paints an intimate portrait of Thomas Merton’s hermitage years and received the Audience Choice Award from Illuminate Film Festival.   She is the co-host of the Encountering Silence podcast, which explores the ambiguity of silence in our modern-day lives. And more recently, she created a podcast hosted by the Christian Century titled Contemplating Now, which examines the intersection of contemplation and social justice.

One thought on “home away from home

  1. I am hoping to make contact with Cassidy Hall who I met at Trappist Abbey in Vina and shared memories of New Melleray. I too am grateful for the Trappist monks and the places for peace, silence, and meditation. The monasteries have also been a opportunity to meet wonderful people on the spiritual journey.

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