Cynthia, I’m a former Buddhist & I’m a newcomer to contemplative Christianity. Came to it by way of Richard Rohr’s videos. To live in a long term monastery setting while immersing in contemplation is what my spirit & my mind needs. Please, there is too much information. What/where do you suggest? Grief. Result of being a care giver to mom w/Dementia for 7 yrs until death, same with father. Your input is appreciated. ~ Ani
Your heartfelt question is actually the proverbial four-leaf clover, in Christian practice anyway. Most monasteries are set up only for short-term retreats; we have not yet accessed ashram consciousness. Among those offering what you’re looking for in a contemplative yet open spirit, I’d still put New Camaldoli (Big Sur, CA) at the top of the list, followed by St. Benedict’s Monastery, Snowmass, CO, and Christ in the Desert In Abiqui, NM. But all these places tend to have long wait lists, and New Camaldoli has now become almost unaffordably pricey. Stays are generally limited to a couple of weeks at the outside.
The other alternative is to go as an observer—i.e., in discernment of a monastic vocation with a particular community. But it’s same gender only (i.e., women can’t do this at male communities and vice versa), and it’s hard to be sincere in your intention if your real motivation is contemplative formation, not vocation discernment.
So in general, it’s a tough nut to crack. I’d still try to swing a shorter retreat at New Camaldoli or St Benedict’s; sometimes if you take the first step, the next will open up. All blessings in your quest. What you are imagining is truly the wave of the future; let’s help the future start to happen now, to break the dreadful present gridlock as monasteries die because of vocations and vocations die because of lack of monasteries…..