Holy Spirit Abbey • Conyers, GA

A trip that began with humility, upon arriving a day early late at night and being welcomed by a monk, ended with extreme elation, in being able to meet with several monks regarding the topics I had hoped to discuss.

Going from Assumption Abbey to Holy Spirit Abbey may be an extreme contrast – but not in terms of good to bad or holy to unholy. The contrast these two locations held seemed to be more about style and variety. Both Abbey’s had the dedicated core and clarity of the monastic life (often most described as: prayer, silence, solitude, work, and community).

Holy Spirit Abbey has an intriguing history, which is clearly described in their museum. Once a former plantation, the monastery land was taken over by the Trappist monks in 1944. I was greeted in the museum by one of the founding members, who is now 101 years old, still working, still praying, still engaging in silence and solitude, still joyfully asserting his commitment to this community.

The main thing I received from my conversations here was this: Aloneness, solitude, and silence are NOT isolation. When these monks seek time away or time alone, they still have the foundation of their brothers (or sisters) and community to rest assured upon.

Which makes me wonder – perhaps it was isolation in my life that led me to this trip and need of aloneness and solitude. In this journey, I’ve already felt more connection and depth with others than I have for quite some time. Maybe amongst people I isolate more frequently and define it as solitude? I’ve always said that just because one may be in a full home, surrounded by people, socializing – does not mean they don’t experience true and genuine loneliness. Which, I suppose, adds another point – aloneness is not necessarily loneliness.

“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.” Thomas Merton

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 “Holy Spirit Abbey • Conyers, GA

Leave a Reply to Carl McColman Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: