Remember my community’s phrase, “God makes new doughnuts everyday”? Well, He does. I have a chance temporarily, like on a holiday-retreat for prayer and writing, to take-over a new, sort-of poustinia in a remote place in the southwestern part of the United States. This is a temporary, not permanent move, as my permanent address remains in Iowa, which is my home in America.
However, as I need solitude and space for prayer and writing, I am accepting this offer, and thank those who helped me with the house of prayer money collected, as some will be used for this house of prayer. I shall set up the chapel in this little place, a wonderful chapel furnished by so many readers. Again, thanks, and I shall not be the only one using the sacred things. The owner will use it for prayer and pilgrims after I leave, at time which is now uncertain, as I am not even there, yet. Most of you know I am applying for overseas residency and citizenship, so those are my long-term plans. I fully intend to open a larger house of prayer overseas, as I did not get enough money to do so here, but am making contacts overseas. It seems that God wants me to set up this little poustinia here and then eventually move on. Interesting. I had not thought of this until this person came up with the offer and someone mentioned to me that this could be God’s plan-a little place here, very little, and a bigger place later. I am patient.
A poustinia is a sparsely furnished small hut for the eremetical lifestyle. Amazingly, this one has Internet connection, I am told, which is a small miracle in itself. I shall set up the chapel there, as noted above, and there is room for two people if some other woman wants to come for a retreat. I already have all the necessities for cooking, sleeping, etc. so I can bring those things, as well as the chapel with me when I finally move in, which most likely will be later this month, after Easter, perhaps.
Americans do not realize how much inflation has hit the States regarding housing. Those who know me know that I have been able to find cheaper rental accommodation in other countries, which most Americans do not realize. One of my friends is thinking of moving to a Mexican island which has a majority of Catholics, daily Mass, and fantastic weather, in order to write and prayer. Again, it would be much cheaper for her to live there than here. It is very hard to live in simplicity in America. There is not a culture of poustinias here, a very Catholic and Orthodox idea, not Protestant, of course.
In prayer, and with my spiritual director’s encouragement, I am to continue praying and writing. This will be possible in the poustinia.
For those who do not know what a poustinia is, it is a small Russian hut for a person who goes into prayer for a certain neighborhood and for penance. Where I am going is obviously penitential, as I would never chose such a far-away place, out of my comfort zone of urban living, even temporarily. I prefer a “cell in the city”, but God has, at least for now, other plans.
The “poustinik”, that is, the person who lives in the poustinia, is traditionally not totally a hermit, thank God, as I am not call to that drastic lifestyle. The poustinik lets people come and talk, serves coffee and tea, gives direction, listens, but mostly prays. I shall be writing as well. And, I can continue the blog there easily, praise God, as that is what He wants for this time.
Here is a description of the poustinik from the Madonna House website: The poustinik was not a hermit. With the help of the villagers, he would build a little hut outside the village and was still very much a part of the village. He lived alone, praying for his own salvation, for the world, and especially for the people of the village. Prayer was his primary bond with all people.
The poustinik welcomed everyone with the words, “Come and share what God in his goodness has given to me.” This meant, first of all, that the poustinik listened. He shared with his guests the silent acceptance he himself received from God in the solitude of the poustinia. It also meant that he would share a cup of tea, bread, or whatever he had.
I have been sharing on my blog–you readers have been “my village”. You will continue to be the Blog Village.
And it meant that, according to the need of his visitor, the poustinik would share what he himself had learned from God in his life of prayer, because the poustinik was always one who listened to God, as well as one who was aware of God listening to him.
I have a feeling that once I move back to Europe, I shall not be blogging as much or at all, but that is in the future, and that is just a “hunch”. Prayer will take over my life at that point-but that is not in the immediate future. So, the blog continues for now…..
Those of you familiar with Catherine Doherty’s famous book of the 1970s recall her introduction to the life of the poustinik. Sadly, Madonna House has gone off the rails in England, (although I cannot say in Canada, in Great Britain being involved with projects supported by Masonry), too undoctrinal, into New Age stuff, and too Charismatic. I am sure Baroness Catherine de Hueck Doherty,would not approve. I tried several years ago to point this out to the group there, but they would not listen.
The Redemptorists in Wisconsin have a poustinia, with photos, so that you can see what these are like. The one I shall be in for a short while is not this grand, nor is the view as great. Wisconsin must be one of the most beautiful states in the union, but cold. Where I shall be is hot. “Mine” is not as grand, more simple and more impoverished, but a poustinia just the same. http://redemptoristretreat.org/poustinia.asp
For the sake of safety, as I shall be isolated, I shall not give the absolute location at this time. Those closest to me will be able to write to me for possible retreats, if they so desire. More about that later.
This poustinia is dedicated to St. Isaac Jogues. That is God’s idea as well.