Reflections




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June 21, 2018


July 12, 2018


Brilliant yellow Zucchini  flowers parade along the garden path in a display of arrogant expansionism.  The fruit of the squash will be cooked with Hermitage tomatoes and fresh basil. The sauce will be frozen for next February’s magic. When the yellow tomatoes bloom, a less acidic sauce will welcome long neck summer squash for frozen pizza sauce sans heartburn. Long range preparation like this requires you keep watch and aggressively weed daily. This stability (being there) and discipline ( force yourself to focus) leaves little room for tangent issues. 

I have observed that stability and focus in all endeavors clears my mind and are the building blocks of success.


June 28, 2018



Zoey looks exotic in her new white veil. Megan’s hat designer should take note of this Icelandic horse's glamorous pose. The veil is designed to keep the flies out of her eyes. The look is striking indeed. The veil is so thin she can still locate and nibble the tiny new grass shoots. At four P.M. I take her veil off and give her three “starbrite” mints. Then we go to the barn and she has oat and molasses cakes which I baked for her. It is a cozy relationship. My Vet says that horses just eat and walk forward. Obviously he can not see with my eyes. Perhaps to see the world with the eyes of others leads to enlightenment.







June 21, 2018



So I am back to digging again. I said I was too old and could not do it. It needs to be eight feet long and two and a half feet deep. It is for a grounding rod to make the electric pasture fence work.The horses never go near the fence anymore but I don’t want to test their will. Thus the return once again to digging. As I approached the task, my mind said no, you will have a heart attack, it will be too difficult with all the rocks in Maine. My mind did enough protesting that I could have had half the work done. So I shut off my mind and opened my heart to being close to the earth and in the fresh spring/summer air. It was done in three days of an hours morning work. My mind tells me numerous things all day, some invaluable and some purely survival fears. I take only what is valuable and get on with the task of life at hand

June 14, 2018



The entire Hermitage gardens were planted by June 8th. What a relief from exhaustion to have these three hundred plants in the ground and growing. My soul is constantly renewed tending to the care and weeding of these new born plants. The plants are blooming with flowers. The magic fruit comes latter. The local grocery store just put in self-checkout stations in the front. No one dared to try to use them and they sat empty till the tourist started to come this spring. And they were not afraid of them. Obviously, a few hundred miles south produces a more sophisticated buyer. Meanwhile I sit and watch the Robins devour worms.

June 7, 2018



June first is the last possible frost date in Maine. So says the National weather service. Last night, June 4th we had a deep frost. It seems the local Maine folks know how fickle the weather is here and are slow to plant. The plants in the ground survived the frost but I will wait another few days to continue planting. Maine is full of compulsive temperature takers. The temperatures are so extreme one needs to keep a sharp eye on the weather. Living dependent on the land is a dramatic adventure. We all live on some piece of land. Perhaps we should get to know it and honor God’s creation.

May 31, 2018



Swept up in the astonishment of spring, I am surrounded with eager plants, agreeable weather, and a wellspring of new life. I planted this “Granny Smith” apple tree three years ago. I hesitated because I did not think it would bloom for many years, given the frigid winters here in Maine. Yet, here it is, full of blooms, and only a baby tree. If we can re-imagine the impossible as possible, our life will bloom as though it is “apple blossom time”


May 24, 2018



Suspended in mid air outside the door of the barn, a ruby hummingbird beckoned. It was time to fill their feeder. Fresh back from their winter resort they were hungry and hummingbirds are not shy and insist you attend to their needs immediately. There is a blue and a purple nine year old lilac bush embracing the entrance to the Hermitage. Two Hummingbird feeders hang within the lilac bushes now. With the lilacs in bloom, a festival of smell and taste follows. I have anticipated the blooming of the lilacs for a full year. It is the horticultural high point of my year. Perhaps a similar occurrence in nature unfolds on a sure and dependable time line in your life. These are the precious realizations that keep the rudder of our ship on course

May 17, 2018

Crowd Gathers for Opening Day of the Electric Car Line in Santa Monica, April 1, 1896

The new reality of seeing trains on Colorado Blvd. in Santa Monica made a friend of mine uneasy with the rapid passing of time. Her little beach town has become a small city. Perhaps new discoveries invite us to see with new eyes the reality before us. Adjusting to the many changes constantly in flux can be a positive endeavor. I have been astonished how everything here at the Hermitage, the nature that surrounds us, the various farm machines and buildings, are in a state of constant change and decay. The Zen masters tell us that everything is always in change. The way to bring that change into focus is indeed, to see with new eyes.

May 10, 2018



After a harsh Maine winter, the blooming of the Forsythia holds an anticipated burst of yellow Spring. Anne Morrow Lindbergh's observation is clearly the best observation of Forsythia in bloom that I have read. “Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in Forsythia, pure undiluted joy.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I have been watching the Forsythia branches for a month as they developed faint buds in the cold and rain of April. May brings the long awaited flowers, at last. Between green and orange, yellow makes itself known ; egg yolks and lemons, against a red barn and with bushes filled with bird nests. Spring !

May 3, 2018



She has her nose in everyone’s business. However, she is not “nosy” in the common sense of the word. Rather, she clearly wants to be included, appreciated, and always noticed. She will not take “no” for an answer and uses her weight to block you if you try to ignore her. She is over one hundred and fifty pounds and is a formidable force demanding reciprocal love and adoration. Her agitated tail looks like a brilliant white boa May West might sport. She is not old, but like many of us she is not young. I would say she is in her prime. I recognize her place in the scheme of my life; a devoted companion and a prophetic voice. The very best point is that she never talks except silently to my heart.

April 26, 2018



I saw my first grasshopper yesterday in the new lush green grass. The grasshopper reminds me of my youthful romps in sunny fields of tall yellow grass. I would sit and thrill when they jumped on my body. This remarkable insect has the ability to easily jump over obstacles and move forward without fear or hesitation, leaving behind what is behind. The liberty of the grasshopper inspires me to advance with eyes forward in faith. We can imitate the grasshopper in leaving behind what is behind. I am reminded of a quote from Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.”




April 19, 2018



The Turkeys are back from their winter holiday. I saw a solitary male lead scout coming up the pasture, heading to the side of the Hermitage where whole corn kernels are put out each day. The male remembered the place from last year. Soon a giant, pregnant girl Turkey followed his lead. By Summer, the new baby chicks will form a single line and follow the others to the corn kernels. The males form watchtowers to protect the moving flock. I have observed that the world of the Turkey is an orderly, predictable, family adventure. In contrast, our world is neither orderly, predictable, and less and less a family adventure. For us, life is too fast for our own good. The iridescent Turkey is beauty in motion. Granted the colors are most intense at a walking pace or waddling. Perhaps if we move slowly we will look iridescent to those around us.

April 12, 2018



“April is the cruelest month” (T.S.Elliot). The twelfth finds the land heaving under snow, the buds are on the verge of bursting forth, and the great Maine mud “break-up” is in progress. I saw my first Robin this morning, a surprisingly plump red breasted returning friend. The puddles on the dirt road are capped with ice each morning. The ice melts each day at noon. Suspended between late winter and early spring, I find comfort from my tension in the horses enthusiasm. Their hefty roll in the pasture’s mud lifts their spirits after four months in the barn. Perhaps we all need a good roll in the mud to remind us we also are free.

April 5, 2018



What a grandiose time is April. It is the month when new mint leaves adorn the forest landscape bringing new life and hope. I am ready for spring this year! With new smells and agitated tails, the dogs will lead as we take long walks on the hidden road to the promontory high above the tidal cove. The dogs will be drawn down to the water’s edge and I shall be content to sit and appreciate how everything looks different and at the same time looks the same. As time goes by, we all notice the change in seasons, change in the circumstances of our lives, and the change in our understanding. Spring is one of those transitional times we recognize with wonder in our lives. Passover and Easter mark the spot where the “same” is different.

Easter, 2018


“Like a deer that longs for running springs… My soul longs for you, my God” (Psalm 42 Easter Vigil ) 

May your thirst for Health and Justice be quenched with The Blessings of Easter 

I will remember you and your family, Here at the Hermitage. 

Christ truly has Risen! Fr. Doug

March 22, 2018



With all the blizzards we keep having this March, isolation on the Hermitage farm begs the question: is isolation only geographical or can isolation be a psychological experience. Isolation on the Hermitage farm leaves room for horses, goats, and St. Bernards. This is a family of living beings interacting in their own way. When I enter the barn, the goats jump down from the hayloft and looking up with their glistening brown eyes anticipate afternoon candy. The horses winnie a greeting and welcome all the attention they can get. The dogs smell the excitement in the air and race between each stall. On the other hand, psychological isolation leaves one suspended and alone or worse ignored in “the lonely crowd”. Most folks you encounter in the mall remain anonymous. Perhaps Nora Roberts sums it up best: “ If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place”.

March 15, 2018


With flying feathered legs, her footprints in the deep snow are stretched like the tail of a comet. Georgia runs along a journey that lingers in her mind from the last snow storm. Her priority is to scatter her scent containing personal information. And to have fun ! Our current method for spreading our scent containing personal information is “Facebook”. In fact, the entire social media is an electronic means for this endeavor. At this time in life, I try not to scatter my scent, and personal information is just that, personal. However, Georgia’s effusiveness over the past four years has inspired me to respond more openly with my full self. And to have fun.

March 8, 2018


What to do with fussy eaters? These girls are true browsers, one day loving something and the
next not interested at all. What exactly makes goats happy?
Many folks think goats eat everything. Not so . They adore strawberries but will not eat them if
there are any green leaves attached to the top.
I have found one food that makes them excited and happy “Wasa Multigrain crackers” make
Rosie and Lily, the Hermitage goats, smile ! Yes, these goats do smile.
For us “Wasa” may not be the key to our happiness. Many folks are still browsing. I once asked an old monk what he had learned after forty years in the monastery. He told me; “It is not hard to be happy, but it is very hard to know what will make you happy”.



March 1, 2018



The full worm moon is March 1st this year. The earth begins to soften and earthworms reappear inviting the return of the robins. This may be true a few hundred miles south of the Hermitage, but we shall need to wait a few more weeks. Even though it has been an unusual Winter with little snow, lots of cold and unfortunately roads thick with ice, it is the ice that has frozen me in for weeks. Just the hint that the robins will be returning is a cause for great anticipation. Winter gets old by March but the leaves will not come out on the trees till late April. The hint of light at the end of the winter tunnel energizes my spirit and my head is full of things I want to accomplish. Perhaps the sight of the first robin will move me to action.

February 22, 2018



Some years, the coming of the season of Lent seems like another burden for some people. I realize as I write to people, that they have too much on their plate to find time to participate in the observances and devotions of Lent. Perhaps a one minute word will keep you in touch with the praying community. The word or phrase is an ancient form of an instant devotion used for centuries by both monks and busy people. This ancient prayer is a confession to God, a prayer for mercy, and a mantra which is always available.. “Lord have mercy on me a sinner.” An excellent Lenten devotion.

February 15, 2018



The ice extends a half mile in every direction. There are no tufts of grass to safely place your foot, nor spots of snow on which you might be safe for a moment. No it is smooth thick ice which invalidates any guarantee of the “new non-slip boot.” No one can come and no one can go. Even the Saint Bernard dogs can not manage this ice. For a few clear sunny February days, our world is frozen in time. It takes a land of ice to pause the world and only leave room to reflect on your situation. Each day the sun rises and then sets atop the glowing tips of the trees that line Weir Cove. I sit and watch in wonder. Does God stop time in a world of ice? Even the internet has been out. This is a stunning moment on pancake Tuesday as time is set aside.

February 8, 2018



In less than a week we will celebrate Ash Wednesday again. Yes, again ! Granted all the important dates come around each year, but the advent of Lent on Feb. 14th is something of a dreary shock in the dead of winter ice and cold. However, THIS Ash Wednesday is the one that truly matters because it lives in our present moment, a unique celebration whose results are not yet determined. By April first, many will wonder where Lent went. So we should capture it here at the beginning and follow it through. But what is the motivation? The Lenten fasts are to remind us to slow down, get control of our excesses, and return our hearts to our spiritual center.

February 1, 2018


As much as I sweet talk them, beg them, and whistle clear moves, the goats will not come to me. They do not respond to calls. You must get behind them with a staff or even a broom and coax them forward. One guides the flock with gentle coaxing. Psalm 95, today’s responsorial psalm, says God gently guides us like a flock. He has our back and protects us from wolfs. Yes, wolfs. Just check out “#MeToo “. The refrain for psalm 95 today is verse eight, “if today you hear his voice, harden not your heart”. But how do you hear his voice and act on it? How not to harden your heart? Rosie and Lily, the two Hermitage goats, are brilliant open spirits. They do not harden their hearts but respond to guidance as sure and steady direction.

January 25, 2018



This sudden blooming of a hundred spring bulbs huddled on a ledge in front of the snow filled landscape, demonstrates the vacillating nature of life. I am attentive to this movement of the life force in my midst. The deep blue hyacinths conceal their intense scent in unexpected corners of the room only to dazzle anyone who breaks the spell. You can not avoid smiling when you are surrounded by this stealthy presence. From times long forgotten in youth, I recognize this enchanting smell and like Proust, realize that my destination is no longer a place rather a new way of seeing.

January 18, 2018



Here in Maine, we are at the first week of the winter tunnel months. The period ends by the second week of March. (if we are lucky). Every day the sun gets longer by a few minutes. By the end of January you become aware of the longer day. Tunnel time is unique in its special passage to the Spring side. It is special in its prolonged powerful weather and it’s natural tendency to a contemplative mode of being. It is something like a six week retreat. I hope to discover a new direction and vision in these months. I have a deep urge to spend the time writing a book of meditations, as the Spirit leads me. Special time does not come often in our lives. Recognizing this time as an opportunity to be acted upon is a blessing.


January 11, 2018



The snow clad forest encases the Hermitage beyond the reach of humanity. The stillness and utter silence of the driving snow finds me quivering in the presence of a voice with no sound, a vision twisted by cataracts, an aloneness filled with swaying promises yet to be fulfilled, and staring wooden flowers, which throughout the span of human history signifies human enlightenment, and the third eye of wisdom looking down from hundreds of fir trees. 

Perhaps this experience in the woods was a tangent moment in time, a parallel universe, a snippet from the eye of God.













January 4, 2018



My heart jumped a beat with joy as I was washing dishes. Inches from the window in front of the kitchen sink, I stood eyeball to eyeball with a fun friend who had disappeared a year ago. Her name is Sandy, a charming Squirrel with a brilliant red tail. She runs across the top of the snow ridge outside the widow and looks in stares and at me. She plays in the leafless lilac bush waiting for the birds to spill more seeds on the ground. The vision of Sandy in the window made me laugh with joy. I keep a picture of her near the window. Now she is back! The unexpected appearance of someone special made me think of other wondrous encounters The day at the airport when I met my sister after several years was another surprising moment. I was dazzled at how much we look alike. I especially remember with fondness the sudden embrace of my Aunt Mary as I disembarked from a train in her hometown. ( she never hugged anyone , ever!). Look around for the unexpected appearance of someone who brings joy. It could be the crossing guard at Church or the produce person in the grocery store who invites you to taste a sample of a melon. These seemingly random encounters are in fact moments of brilliance designated by a smiling God

New Year, 2018



We begin 2018 in the dark as we watch for the return of more light. Most ancient religions mark
the shortest days of the year with a yearning for an early spring and more light.
The lectionary says that the first prayer for the mass on January 1st is from the ancient book of
the bible, “Numbers”. A better word than this Greek title would be the Hebrew designation
“bemidbar” “in the wilderness”, which narrates the departure from Sinai through the wilderness
that leads to the promised land. We begin the New Year with this blessing given to the people of
God as they start out on a bright new journey.
“May Yahweh bless you and keep you”
“May Yahweh let his face shine on you and be gracious to you”
“May Yahweh show you his face and bring you peace”
(Numbers 6: 24-26)

From the little Hermitage hidden deep in Maine’s snowbound forest at the seashore, we
surround you with heartfelt gratitude for your generosity to us. Blessings of health and “all good
things” this 2018.

Christmas, 2017



“The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light.” Is 9:2 

“For to us a child is born” “Wonderful Counselor Mighty God Prince of Peace.” Is 9:6 

May the new Light shine on your path And bring you and your family blessings, health, and assurance

December 14, 2017



“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, He has covered me with a robe of Justice.” With these words the third Sunday of Advent makes clear the imminent arrival of the Spirit in our hearts and in our lives this Christmas. This is not simply an idea or an expression or figure of speech; no, we are talking about the tangible, manifested reality of the power of God resting upon our life. All day, every day, in good times and in bad times; whether the stock market is up or down; or whether the grocery store has 39 cents a pound for bananas. “Covered with a robe of justice” we are called to conduct ourselves with fairness. Justice is what we seek and find in the third sunday of Advent.

December 7, 2017


With the second Sunday of Advent, we are promised a messenger, a witness, a prophet in our midst, whose purpose is to prepare the way of the Lord. This prophet is in our midst, wearing old clothes and living on locusts and wild honey. Is he a man in the street? Perhaps he is a cop or a teacher, or man on drugs. Can we break through our prejudices and expectations to see the prophet before us? It is an exciting time to know he is in our midst. It would be terrible to miss him because we would not see. Each day of Advent we see more and more excitement about the coming of one “whose sandal I am not worthy to untie”. After all these years, John still points the way.

November 30, 2017


Over the years, many prayers had been added to the Church's new year liturgy celebrated at the first Sunday of Advent. Over time, the Church fathers collected these various prayers into the “collect” for the first Mass of the new year: “Grant your faithful, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ” Collect for 1st Sunday of Advent. The Advent season is a “groaning” or “yearning” for the birth of Christ among us.

Thanksgiving, 2017



What a wonder is Lilly (the small goat in the picture) as she embraces the wild Hermitage turkeys in their common love for corn. Lilly is a tender girl and teaches me by her inclusiveness. With all the dark news at this time, this picture speaks a thousand words about tolerance and acceptance. I wish you blessings and health this marvelous Thanksgiving.

November 9, 2017


Drifting down around me, the adornments of autumn, dressed in stunning colors, enhance the finale before me. Minimalism has shaded the landscape in hues of gray and white. A unique autumn light streams through the green fir trees. The Canadian geese are off to South Carolina (or there about) and the lack of their honk leaves a profound silence. The sound of the rushing tide of the Bay of Fundy, a tide that moves twenty-nine feet twice a day in it’s dance with the moon, ruffled my imagination. The shrill cry of a glossy black crow pierced my shell, and I went back to my work.

November 2, 2017


St Odilo, the abbot of the monastery in Cluny France, instituted “All Souls Day” in 993 AD. Sugar skulls, which symbolize death and/or rebirth, were elaborately colored and placed on the graves on the day of the dead. Bright yellow marigolds, a traditional flower associated with the dead were also in abundance on shrines for the day of the dead. Some say the Marigold represents the “rays of the sun”. Remembering the dead was a custom long before Christianity. People of many faiths believe that remembering the dead brings the soul of the deceased back and alive in our presence.

October 27, 2017


October 31st marks 500 years since an Augustinian priest published his 95 complaints against the Church. His complaints were honest concerns. Here are just a few: Luther wanted lay people to have a bible in their own language, to have the mass in their own language. He wanted lay people to receive communion in their hands and to be offered the chalice. He wanted communion rails taken down and people to stand in line. He protested against the selling of indulgences, especially to raise money to build St. Peter's. He wanted priests to offer mass together as opposed to saying mass individually at side altars. This was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation and developed into a Revolution as most reformations do in history.

October 19, 2017



Where ,oh where, have the “Woolly Bears” gone? For seven years these banded Woolly bear caterpillars appeared in droves in the autumn as they searched for the perfect place to hibernate in the winter and reappear in spring as moths. This year there are none! The “Farmer’s Almanac” says “Woolly bears” predict the winter weather by the size of the brown band between the two black bands. I wonder how accurate this idea may be. It is an adorable theory and has proven somewhat accurate over hundreds of years here in Maine. Is their disappearance attributable to a seven year cycle? I cannot quite believe it is “climate change”! One thing is for sure, there is one hermit in Maine that has time to miss them, and pray they will return next year.

October 12, 2017


Early in the morning, just as the first light appears over the ocean, the evenings frozen icing is seen capping the yellow and red trees that outline the water’s edge. This frost looks like the dripping frosting that covers “Hostess” cupcakes, all yellow or pink. By ten A.M. the frost is gone and winter’s unannounced brief visit evaporates before my eyes. By noon, the autumn garden springs back and the bluebirds return to feed. By Vespers, the temperature is fifty-six degrees and balmy weather returns. The dramatic shifts in weather are the norm for Autumn in New England. An unexpected now ticks relentlessly from my cuckoo clock. This real time account catches my attention at the edge of the frame of my imagination. What is real is always before me. What is next is the plan of God.

October 5, 2017



Twelve days after my open heart surgery, I sat on the side of my bed and cried. Everything was
black. I could not even imagine light again. This was my introduction to depression. Apparently
depression is common after traumatic surgery.
That terrible experience which lasted more than ten days taught me about the black hole of
depression. No one could cheer me. “Talk therapy” was of no use. I also learned that just saying
“I am fine” is a poor cover-up.
I have counseled many people with depression and many who are in denial.The good news is
that now doctors have medication to relieve most depression.
Spiritual depression is a similar malady. The insight of D. Martyn Lloyd-Sones into spiritual
depression is inspired: “We must never look at any sin in our past life in any way except that
which leads us to praise God and to magnify His grace in Jesus Christ”.

September 28, 2017


A small mouse with a large distended abdomen ran between my legs and under the door of the canned food pantry. She was slate gray in tone and was not at all afraid. In her mind, she and her babies were home for the winter. However I am trying to catch her for release in the barn before her babies are born. This removal to the barn is an annual autumn event and everyone seems content with their new accommodations. Sitting on a little wooden stool, I am held captive in my observation of the rhythm of life in the barn. All the animals who live in the barn are ruminants. The only sound is the slow cadence of their grinding teeth. I listen and wonder how they live on just hay. I watch the horses and goats comfortable to share their hay and treats. Everyone seems welcome. These days in Maine, most barns are abandoned or are used for automobiles. The dignity of just sitting in the barn with time to commune with the sights and sounds is almost a lost opportunity for meditation.

September 21, 2017



From over the roof, hundreds of Canadian geese cast a shadow on the pasture as they pause
on Weir cove to refresh themselves and rest. Their continual characteristic honking informs
each other when it is time to continue. After a few hours, they fly in formation out of the cove,
turning south for the winter. Sitting on the turf, I wonder what shall happen in their absence.
Autumn is a period of decline before winter, says the dictionary. However, I believe Autumn is a
time for saving and investing to get through winter. The absence of the Canadian geese is not a
time for longing, but a time to celebrate new hope.

September 14, 2017


The discovery of chocolate in the sixteenth century, forced the theologians to determine
whether, for rules of fasting, chocolate was a food or a liquid; but soon it was suspected of being inimical to chastity, and at last it’s consumption by some religious orders was forbidden.
Our later perspective may find this issue somewhat bizarre.
What will seem ridiculous one hundred years from now? Even fifty years from now?
We are all born in an historical moment in time and few of us have a correct vision of the future.
The terrible truth is that we must move forward even when we can not see clearly.
A frail wagon carries us forward, the wise one prays to see clearly the path of the Spirit.

September 8, 2017



On the feast of the birth of the Virgin Mary, September 8th,
Twenty-eight years ordained to the priesthood,
Eighth anniversary of the Hermitage ministry,
I wish to acknowledge my deep and abiding gratitude to God for your care and support.

August 24, 2017



Monarchs are fronting the garlic patch where I sit soaking up the warm August sun. The mature
garlic flowers, in the shape of Russian onion domes, peel back to reveal next year's seeds. I
never saw a garlic flower before today. What a surprise to see the shape and the packed
contents. I feel moved to new heights of imagination. Garlic is one of the world’s oldest
cultivated vegetables and has been used as medicine for thousands of years. But it smells!
How often we miss the true value of something in our lives because they smell or look humble.
We get caught in our own narrow mindedness and fail to experience the hidden wonders that
surround us.

August 17, 2017

In his twilight years, “Hank” the Hermitage Saint Bernard, has taken to building nests out of the new hay in the barn. The sweet fresh smell of the new hay works magic on both of us. Surely he is not building to accommodate pups or a new girlfriend. It seems clear that he is building from some primal instinct.
We are told that instinct is the functional side of behavior while hormones are the silent drivers of behavior.
As we age, our hormones change and our behavior is made manifest by our primal instinct.
I have observed that the farm animals, like ourselves, exhibit primal instincts of fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, depression, loneliness, and boredom. However, the good news is that our hormones mitigate these primal instincts so they become vehicles of survival.
If hormones drive our behavior, then how does free will operate? The true role of hormones is slowly being recognized by scientists. Meanwhile, Hank and I dance in the piles of hay.



August 10, 2017


The truck arrived this weekend with three hundred and thirty two extra large bales of hay. My job was to stand at the bottom of the conveyor and swing 60 pound bales of hay onto the conveyor which carries the hay up to the loft on the second floor of the barn. However, because of advanced neuropathy in my feet, I kept losing my balance at the conveyor. I also realized that I was now too weak to swing the bales.
How did this weakness come upon me? I was embarrassed that I could no longer do the job.
The twenty-four year old truck driver took pity on me and told me to sit and he did my job.
So it comes to this !!!!!
After I had a good internal cry for my lost youth, I decided I must do what I am able to do. We all must reinvent ourselves with joy at each stage of life. It is the time we have NOW. I swallowed my limping masculine pride and cowboyed up to the new reality.
Today I feel more comfortable with myself. I stood back and realized that “it does not depend on me” but on the blessed assurance that God’s plan is at work. I must co-operate with it.

August 3, 2017



The land of “what might have been” is fraught with delusions. And “what might have been” goads our imagination and stirs hopeless dreams. Elon Musk only dreams of what MIGHT be and plans accordingly. The old adage: “plan your work and work your plan” envisions a laser focus with legitimate expectations.
These lessons prove hard for most people. Most people have regrets about the past and do not have a sure fire singular vision for what might be.
The outcome of “faith in the future” is determined by our faith in God. Romans 8:28 tells us that ALL things work for the good (even those we fear have failed) for those who love God.

July 27, 2017


Abraham Lincoln is reported to say: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the ax.”
Last winter I saw a man in his pajamas chopping fire wood on a very cold morning. It is not that unusual if you don’t prepare well. Preparation for a Maine winter is much like sharpening an ax for the first four hours. It takes from August to October to prepare for the harsh Maine winter. Scraping and painting the porch and deck, stacking five cords of firewood, moving 300 bales of hay into the barn, are just a few of the annual preparations.
I marvel at the constant struggle to prepare and maintain not only buildings, but also personal health of mind and body. I often think that visiting doctors for preventative care is my new social life!
We prepare our soul to receive the Eucharist. Perhaps we must prepare our bodies to live deliberately.

July 20, 2017


Outside the window by the garden fence, the prolific rabbits, huge and brown, are having their best year in many years. With the introduction of the watchful alpine Mastiff, the rabbits are safe from coyotes and are thriving.
As I watched, the largest rabbit is trying to fit through the small square opening in the wire fence. The rabbits repeated attempts are both futile and humorous to watch.
How many times have we forced our way through the hole in the fences in life and found we were not safe on the other side?
The whiskers of our common sense serve to tell us the safe limits that determine our safe space. No one likes limits. However, surrendering a small slice of freedom, is small price to pay for good judgement.

July 13, 2017



Cheek to cheek, six inches from the clear brown eye of the Icelandic pony, we walk close together back to the barn.We look deep into each others eye while I whisper sweet nothings in Lokkur’s ear. All this to keep his attention on me and not on the tall luscious green grass all around us. The diversion works well.

I find my proximity to this 900 lb. horse intense, frightening, and intimate. Perhaps that is the same for both of us. Often I feel lost in his eye. I am sure he smells my breath, feels my touch and senses my face against his face. In truth our common world is made of touch and feelings.

Perhaps that is the best we can do, the horse and I. Perhaps it is enough.

I fear touch and feelings have become out of style in this manic world.

Touch and feelings is a staple among domestic animals but a legal and social quagmire between humans. Six inches from another’s eye violates our comfort space , so the law decrees.

Hug a loved one today.



July 6, 2017

Lovely appear at the forest edge, the fireflies remind me of L.E.D. lights twinkling on a Christmas tree of yore. Curiously, they are winged beetles and not flies at all. More curiously, they only “light up” in the
East. The light produced by the firefly is the most efficient light ever made. Almost 100% of the energy in the chemical reaction is emitted as light; in comparison an incandescent light bulb only emits 10% of its energy as light, the other 90% is lost as heat.
However, it is not the details of the firefly that embrace my imagination. Rather it is the early evening choreographed display of hundreds of tiny lights across the pasture outside my window.








June 29, 2017



I never grew garlic before last October. At that time, I planted individual cloves under six inches of soil and covered the garlic patch with hay for the winter. Each day I looked at the garlic patch out the kitchen window. For months the patch was deep under the snow. In spring the garlic broke through the hay and now in July I think it is ready for harvest. You really never know when the garlic is ready for harvest. You need to watch the tall green leaves. When they start to turn brown the garlic is ready to harvest.
It is a long time from October to July. Many moods change in that time. Some good and some not so good. But the garlic grows through it all.
As time goes bye, I tend to find comfort in dependable cycles. However I can and do admire the stimulus of moving forward on an unrepeatable road of discovery.

June 22, 2017


Buddha says:
Have compassion for all beings,
Rich and poor alike; each has their suffering.
Some suffer too much,
Others too little.
The first example of compassion in the bible is from Exodus 2:6
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river
And discovered the baby Moses in a basket.
“She had compassion for him.” She received the baby Moses.
Modern instant news fills our souls with tragic sights so often
That we become desensitized and find compassion for all too demanding.
Perhaps compassion is best sourced one being at a time. Start with the one
Who is before you.

June 15, 2017



The animals with whom I live begin at the summer solstice to lose their summer coat. By the fall equinox they will have most of their winter coat. From solstice to solstice they are indeed the
prophets of the seasons.
Each day as I feed them, I brush their coat, I touch their bodies, I listen as their heart beats out the measure of their lives and the seasons.
For many folks the change in seasons is signaled by the revolving clothing fashions in stores.
Perhaps not what I had envisioned as the most sensitive way to connect with the moods of nature. But I can see how it might work.
What is important is that we each recognize these are the longest days of the year. A celebration is in order.

June 8, 2017


From the point of view of the simple and steady life in the Hermitage, I have the impression that time, occupied by farm work, passes less swiftly than time in the fast paced electronic modern world. I know that time passes one second at a time everywhere regardless of our perception. However, the speeding changes in the very fabric of our society calls us to recognize a new time and a new reality lest we become antiques in our own lifetime. All generation gaps fail our
sense of solidarity. We all must spring forward.
Apparently, folks do not have the time for more than 144 characters in a thought. Even the president “tweets”. I do not “tweet”. I invite you to consider a slower pace with a steady time-frame to better integrate our hearts and souls with the new world about us.

May 11, 2017


As I sit to write this Sunday, I realize that on Wednesday I shall see the true yellow of the forsythia flowers of my youth. You see, the forsythia bloomed today and I will remove the bandage from my cataract surgery on Wednesday and I expect the much loved flower will be seen as it was seventy years ago. This restored vision may well be extraordinary. The lilacs, bleeding hearts, and peonies will also bloom in a few weeks. This spectacle has been anticipated by me since the first snow in December.
I am often unwilling to indulge in anticipation because of possible disappointment. However my study of John Keats “Ode to a Grecian Urn” has made me realize that the best part of the reward is the anticipation. The flowers are blooming now in all their beauty, but they will be gone in a month. The anticipation lasted six months.
As we anticipate the future, may we be found at peace.

May 4, 2017



The idea that everyone must eat and be full has become my obsession, rooted in my Aunt’s Depression era memories..
I buy fifty pound bags of corn at the feed store and spread a coffee can full of corn where the trails meet at the barn. Turkeys, crows, goats, and deer indulge in this feast. I love to watch them eat. I imagine this obsession is why I became a chef in a French restaurant for untold years. I enjoyed every minute of cooking.
I have a night vision camera that I set out at the corn and observe all manner of animals coming to eat in the darkness. This “night country” is an intriguing time for me.
I know that most of the one hundred plus seedlings I have planted in “Rockwool fiber” grow the most at night. I see them grow at 4:00 AM and 3:00 AM when I let the dogs out. These small plants of food seem to be in motion in the “night country”.
I see the preoccupation of all manner of life germinating. As James Joyce has said; “It is the great yes to life”. Day and Night I watch the hand of God leading us to life.

April 27, 2017



On this spring morning, a solitary white bunny lays in the welcome sunshine. Only the tips of it’s giant ears are still brown. By Memorial day the rabbit will be entirely brown, a camouflage for the
summer season. This endearing morphologist instinctively protects itself from pray. Our morphology is more ambitious. We are spending our efforts to morph into a supercomputer. Unlike the rabbits, our change is permanent and not just seasonal. Unlike the rabbit, our
feelings and joys are left behind. Unlike the rabbit, we will permanently evolve into bio-mechanical beings.
I discovered that there is no antonym for biology. You are either a living entity or not. So a bio-mechanical being is the best I can do to describe the tremendous leap we are about to take ignoring the hand of our creator. Perhaps being a bunny is, though less ambitious, is the correct
path,

April 20, 2017



These forty days between Easter and Pentecost entail a tremendous change in the landscape and in our hearts. The entire physical landscape is groaning to explode here at the Hermitage. I finished planting four hundred seeds in individual small pots to remain indoors till the danger of frost is past. Then they go into the gardens.
Easter season blessings are invoked for a successful sprouting of these seeds in my heart as well. I look closely and searchingly for the transformation from seed to plant. The determination
of life to procreate fills me with awe.
The journey from seed to life resonates with the celebration of the resurrection of the seed of faith growing in our hearts.

Easter April 16, 2017


The pussy willow slyly licked her paws while heartless winter wanes.
So the winter wonder passes into spring and crocuses appear in the garden.
The goats are laying on the deck displaying their tummy to the sun.
Zoey and Lokkur have returned to grazing in the pasture though it is still brown.
A mild winter folks here proclaim and I am thrilled in anticipation of what is to grow.
Another spring and we are blessed to be enveloped and enthralled.

April 6, 2017



What a grandiose time is April. It is the month when new mint green leaves adorn the forest landscape bringing new life and hope.
I am ready for spring this year!
With titillative new smells and agitative tails the dogs will lead as we take long walks on the hidden road to the promontory high above the tidal cove. The dogs will be drawn down to the water’s edge and I shall be content to sit and appreciate how everything looks different and at
the same time the same.
As time goes bye, we all notice the change in seasons, the change in the circumstances of our lives, and the change in our understanding. Spring is one of those transitional times we
recognize in our lives.
Passover and Easter mark the spot where the same is different.

March 30, 2017


Ravenously devouring the snow mound, Hank, the Saint Bernard, is deaf to my pleas to come indoors. Apparently, some ancient instinct from his lineage as a rescue dog in the Alps is made manifest in this winter weather.The anthropologist, Loren Eiseley, said long ago we passed from purely instinctual animals to decision animals based on reasoned cognition. (though it is clear evolution has lagged behind in our new mode of thinking). I do believe that a deeper study of animals instinct may well help us in our struggle to manage our new frontal lobes. Since there is no going back to rote instinct we have been given reason. The absence of language is the great divide in our communication with other mammals, but I continue to carefully strain to make sense of their vocalizations and especially their body language. So much depends on attitude. Up till now we saw animals as dumb, but I have lived long enough to know they are trying to communicate with us. It must be a level bridge between us with respect for each other. In times past, when we worked in the field with them, understanding and feelings were more important.  Now we have “Teslas” and “747’s” that do not feel..  

March 23, 2017



This pot of purple hyacinths and yellow daffodils bloom in stark contrast with the late spring blanket of undisturbed white snow. The absence of small mammal tracks and bird impressions  suggests a lapse in the seasonal transition that is still mostly undercover.  I feel rested and eager to till and plant the gardens, lead the horses to green pastures and the goats to moss covered granite outcrops. Is it time for a close shave and an extra long hot shower? Shall I wear my new Carhartt bibs? I feel part of the resurrected life of 2017.  It is not just in the north woods of Maine that spring is enchanting. The mustard flowers of Malibu make me think of the land of “OZ”.  The rejuvenation that sprouts in March will pass quickly leaving me behind. However,  I will be changed by the exuberance bursting forth. 

March 16, 2017


You can never cross an emotional bridge if you keep rushing back. 

Rushing back indicates you have not resolved the past struggle in your mind. This can be because of a relationship, work, friends, or the circumstances of life. That pull backward is like running a low grade movie over and over in your mind. 

I can become so obsessed with an emotional experience that it robs me of the present. ‘’ Each time I try to go forward and each time the ballet on the bridge gets shorter. 

It takes a great deal of faith “to let it go” and let God deal with it. 


March 9, 2017


My heart jumped a beat with joy as I was washing dishes.

Inches from the window in front of the kitchen sink, I stood eyeball to eyeball with a fun friend that had disappeared a year ago, her name is Sandy, a charming squirrel with a brilliant red tail. She runs across the top of the snow ridge outside the window and looks in and stares at me. She plays in the leafless lilac bush waiting for the birds to spill more seeds on the ground.

The vision of Sandy in the window made me laugh with joy. I keep a picture of her near the window. Now she is back!

The unexpected appearance of someone special made me think of other wondrous encounters. The day at the airport I met my sister after several years was another surprising moment. I was dazzled at how much we looked alike.  I especially remember with fondness the sudden embrace of my Aunt Mary as I disembarked from a train in her home town. (she never hugged anyone, ever!)

Look around for the unexpected appearance of someone who brings joy. It could be the crossing guard at Church or the produce person in the grocery store who invites you to taste a sample of a melon.

These seemingly random encounters are in fact moments of brilliance designated by a smiling God 


February 23, 2017



Out of the blue, circumstances defeat the illusion of a comfortable, predictable schedule.

The first week of January 2017 set off such a chain of events for me. I took a big fall on the ice on the fire wood pile and hurt my back. Then I got frost bite on my writing hand. By Feb. 2nd, I was in the hospital for extensive tests.

My health is back now and I apologize for my unexpected absence and delay in corresponding.

Also during this period my computer crashed and I lost my email addresses. I ask that you send me your email address at drglassman1@gmail.com . I will be sure to make a paper record this time.

Meanwhile, please know you continue in my heart and prayers.

February 2, 2017


The local folks call January, February, and March the tunnel months. I believe they are thus named because they seems to be very little light at the end of the tunnel.

As I write, January 2017 passes into history as a tunnel month with no snow, few single digit temperatures at night, and an agreeable weather pattern. However, I am well aware that we still have February and March. They both are able to resolve into  a “hard winter”.

Being grateful for this January is a positive emphasis of the present.

It is fruitless to worry about what the weather will be in the future.

Forget your troubles today.

I sit on the great granite boulder secure in the coming new sun light.



January 26, 2017


Twelve portly turkeys waddled, one behind the other, from a hole in the forest. They were searching for the stash of corn put out for them each day. At least one of them remembers the location of the corn each winter season. They also know the outdoor schedule of the great bounding Saint Bernard who patrols the perimeter of the Hermitage both day and night. The pageant of the turkeys unfolds unchanged each winter season as they promenade into the garden beneath the bird feeders to eat the spilled seeds.

The lead turkey falls back to assure that the last turkey is escorted to the feast. These guards direct the movement of the chicks with their enormous wings.

The turkey community is stable, extraordinarily caring, and glamorous.

Do I dare to follow them back to the hole in the forest?

Perhaps I am bound to this parallel world which only invites 

imagination.    


January 18, 2017



It is difficult enough to try to fill my wagon with fire wood covered with ice. But I pulled the wrong log from the pile and the entire pile fell on my legs and covered me. As I lay there embarrassed, my dear Saint Bernard tried to pull me free to no avail. The next damage was a torn groin muscle and numerous joint pain.

My strategy was to lift myself up with the aid of a free log and get up even with the defective leg. Thoughts came to me of so many folks who go on with many greater afflictions, both physical and emotional, filled with faith and determination.

Life is full of events like logs falling on your leg. Despite the abundance of wrenching in my legs, my overwhelming  drive was to have faith to move ahead and meet with the unexpected.  

New Year, 2017

May blessings of Health and Faith Surround You This New Year!

It is somewhat daunting to envision what will unfold in 2017.

It is at times sobering to dwell on the happenings of 2016.

It is in the intense NOW of this New Year that our dreams look to this New Tomorrow

 with unalterable faith that God has planned well for us and we are wholly fulfilled in His design.

Please know of my gratitude and daily prayers for your loving support

 of this remote Hermitage that encounters God each day.

You continue in my heart and prayers.   


Christmas, 2016


"Light Dawns for the Just…

and Gladness Dawns

for the upright in Heart”

         (Psalm 97:11)

 

May the New Light of Christmas

Enable your vision of a

New Tomorrow.








December 8 - 15, 2016


Out in the blinding snow, all you can hear is the soft sound of snowflakes gathering on the dark green pine branches. The stillness sends a shiver down my back; winter is coming home. The endless “grade B” movie that runs in the back of my head has gratefully ground to a halt leaving a void in the space that was filled by Trump, China, Diabetes, and Taxes. The pure white snow covers all in silence.

Suddenly out of this world of silence I become aware of the small soft sound of the birds of this paradise.

A Chick-a-dee stands on the snow bound feeding platform. He/She will visit every day this winter and is an assuring model of stability. Pairs of Mourning Doves exhibit harmony in their realized “cooing”. A monogamous pair, as are most foul, they are steady in their care and love for each other. The shy but conspicuous glossy black Raven sits in the leafless tree branches observing.

Perhaps it is only by halting the mind’s harangue, that the awe before us becomes visible.


Thanksgiving, 2016


Advent means to anticipate and implies looking forward to something with a foretaste of the pleasure it promises. Perhaps “the Christmas spirit” is the foretaste of the pleasure promised in the season of Advent.

The light snow fall this morning with all the pine trees frosted in glistening white, sparked “the Christmas spirit” in my heart. The blue birds flying in the fresh green trees lifted me higher and I was thrilled with the icy snow on my face. The world seemed fresh and sane once again.

The “spirit of Christmas” is woven into these four weeks of Advent. Lift your head from the weight of the world and politics and be filled with the promise of this season.


November 17, 2016


A secret new life under the breast of the snow assures continuity of heart.

I covered the new organic garlic patch cloves eight inches beneath the soil and then added a thick blanket of hay.

Depending on the winter weather, five to ten feet of snow will lay on the hay until April.

Many years ago, I had an acquaintance who was addicted to gambling. He told me that “he had to have a number running” to get through the day. The organic garlic patch is my equivalent to “a number running”.

Yes, I have a “number running” under the hay which will flower for Easter. This secret underground patch forms in my heart a bridge from now to then. Meanwhile winter is coming home and promises a gift. 


November 3 - 17, 2016


Preparation is one of the keys to success. During the high growth season in Maine, the half mile of dirt road which connects the Hermitage to the outside world is severely grown over. For the snow plow to get up the road, all the dead tree limbs and extreme bushes must be removed by a large tractor. If you expect to get out in winter, you must clear the sides of the roads in autumn. Clearing out both physical landscape and spiritual blockage in our mind is indeed necessary preparation to realize our goals.

From time to time, we all need to bring in the plow for greater clarity. 


October 27, 2016


Climate change may be the only plausible explanation for the almost total absence of Hummingbirds, honey bees, and wooly caterpillars this year. There has been a curious lack of squirrels, Monarch butterflies which you can count on one hand, and no chipmunks. The predictable pattern of nature seems frustrated in my short view of such matters.

The familiar structures of human society appear to be in the process of being dismantled. There is a catastrophic shift in the familiar role of the family. This seems to be a result of social change rather than climate change.

Change and stability seem to be morphing into one reality. Heraclitus said: No one steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he/she is not the same person.


October 20, 2016


The third night of frost has signaled the time to plant garlic. The garlic will sleep under the snow and bloom next spring. I will plant organic cloves of “Polish Red, German Red, German Extra Hardy, and Russian Red”. The location of the garlic will be only known by a red flag on a pole. I imagine the location will be known by local witches as well. I hope Samantha keeps her eye on it!

Setting garlic in October to bloom in May is a gesture of faith in the future.

Squirrels also hide acorns in the ground to use when needed. But sometimes they forget where they hid them. Will I be more clever than the squirrels?

It seems most of us plant our “acorns and garlic” this time of year with great anticipation. But as Bill Clinton said, “Anything can happen.”

Faith and trust are the powerful tools of our endeavor. 


October 13, 2016



I love to tickle the growing beard of the Icelandic ponies. The coming winter signals the growth of coats and beards on all the Hermitage animals. There is no “L.L.Bean” or “Lands’ End” here, so God provides for their needs.
I sense a whirling cloud of preparation, anticipation, and change on the farm and in the surrounding pastures and forest.
However, I remember well driving the P.C.H. to work each day. It demanded preparation, anticipation, and change as well.
The tension in the wire of life produces varying notes. Some notes are soothing like the peaceful occupation of the ruminants. Some tense notes like driving up the California incline.
All the notes together create the symphony of life. I prefer Brahms to Rap. I suspect the difference lies on the path of temperament. Most prefer the smell of a new car over the smell of goats. Again temperament.
I have observed that it is the utter silence of the Hermitage that fundamentally contrasts it with city life.
At the heart of it, the world of silence paves the road to the soul.  


October 6, 2016


The two pastures are brilliant gardens for horses, robins, and rabbits. I watch these animals from my bed as the evening light fades against the pink and blue horizon. The Egyptians call this time of day “Westing” and believed rightly that as life fades, the sunrise brings a new birth.

The sun rose at 6:28 A.M. this morning. I had been up in the dark for some time. I kept an eye out for the reappearance of the pastures. Then suddenly there was light!

The intrusive circumstances of one’s life are a zoetrope of illusions. The heart may be dazzled and perhaps amused but not awestruck as in the motion of the autumn sun. 


September 29, 2016


A tremendous change has occurred with the advent of autumn. 
Hundreds of red and yellow apples lay in circles beneath the trees. The colored leaves release their grip and flutter to the earth.
The tremendous change came as a dream in the breeze full of eagerness to proceed to a coming winter sleep.
Oh, I realize that anticipation distracts from the utter wonder of the present.
However, the “dream time” of autumn keeps life in perspective. 







September 22, 2016


Balance in mind and body and spirit is the gift of the autumn equinox. It is, like the spring equinox, an opportunity to experience twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness.

September 22nd, hit the balance and ends the extreme of the summer solstice. All sentient beings are, to some degree, aware of this balance both here and in the city.

In the midst of a plentiful harvest, humans sense the reality that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear new fruit.

Here at the Hermitage we are aware of each incremental shift in the animals as they start to grow their winter coat, we delight in the trees as they turn colors, and for my part feel a pensive mood of reflection and satisfaction with the well worked harvest.

I pause to celebrate your loving kindness.             

September 8 -21, 2016

With gratitude to God:

In celebration of twenty-seven years of priesthood

and seven years of the Hermitage ministry,

My heart reaches out to you with hugs and blessings

For your many years of friendship.




September 1, 2016


The first red sugar maple leaves lay on the Hidden road. A halo of wild apples circle the tree in the pasture. Here, most apple trees are ringed by their fruit at the drip line. No one gathers the apples, let alone, make apple butter. Since they are not a ring of “Pop-Tarts”, they are not considered food.

In Machias, McDonalds is selling Lobster rolls and in Lubec, a Taco shack has opened on the water front.

All the sardine canneries have closed and the cod and haddock have migrated to Nova Scotia.

Indeed, beyond the Hermitage persists the “Topsy Turvy” world of Gilbert and Sullivan.

I am bemused and bewildered by the muddle of the expected and prefer the stable order of God’s creation around the Hermitage.     


August 25, 2016


The 2016 Olympics of the black raspberry harvest has begun at the Hermitage. The Saint Bernard’s devour berries, leaves, and thorns as they burrow through low growing bushes. I need a walking pole for balance and pushing back the meandering thorny bows. With a long sleeve shirt and plastic gloves, I hope to protect my thin skin from bleeding. The harvest takes many days and long hours fighting off mosquitoes.
Why do I do it?
Perhaps for the fond memories of a tradition from the past.
Certainly for the splendor of God’s sentient beings (sometimes mingled with pain!). 
Splendor and pain: two sides of the coin of life.


August 18, 2016



Lilly spends her day eating hay. She only stops at 3:00 PM for her daily treat of goat candy. She fiercely stands among the bales of hay, ignoring the dogs and horses and me.

How curious of God to make an animal that has no interest in life except to eat. Her only goal in life is an endless supply of hay. That is what makes her feel secure and content.

The feeling of security and being content is a fleeting experience for most humans. That does not do it for us. But what does?

Many folks are professional seekers. They do not know what will make them happy.

Like Lilly, they spend their days searching for the perfect bale of hay. However, unlike Lilly who knows what will make her happy, they end up in an empty stall of consumerism and fail to be content.


August 11, 2016


The hornets built a nest over the propane tank meter. August is the time of year when my kitchen propane runs out. I need the gas to cook but do not want to kill the hornets.
The colloquial adjective “hornet’s nest” is “a situation fraught with trouble.’ And so it is!
The time to weigh the correct moral course of action is a gift of hermitage life. But in the case of the hornets, time did not lead to an optimal solution
Perhaps the ethical principle “choose the lesser of two evils” might apply here.
The choice between the evil of killing all the hornets and the evil (if inconvenience is an evil!) of not being able to cook is difficult for me to measure. Should I ask the Buddha?


August 5, 2016


Apparently a bird dropped a single random kernel of corn in the barn yard. There is one tall corn plant growing there. All the more amazing since I have been trying to grow corn in the gardens for years and only produced meager results at best. Yet this bird gets it to grow with only blind chance.

I have observed that life expands irresistibly with little regard for our intentions. It seems that only our environmental abuse threatens its success.

I often leave random vegetable plants go to seed each year to enjoy the flowers of their full cycle. The broccoli and horseradish plants have the most remarkable flowers.

Perhaps if we are encouraged to fully flower how brilliant our own image will be for all to enjoy.   


July 27, 2016

How set in its ways the summer season appears. It encourages an illusion of time standing still, much as the winter season reflects the illusion of time frozen. Both seasons remind me of weighted globes of glass that when shaken appear to rain either butterflies or snow down on the scene. Both experiences are transitory yet capture a magic moment in time. Here at the end of July, I embrace the lushness of the trees and the waves of newly planted pasture grass. The two Icelandic ponies graze the grass as if they are slowly carried forward on a conveyor. “To eat and chew and walk forward” is their suspended, unhurried day. Their extraordinarily long flowing manes blow in the gently summer breeze.
Both pastures are fenced by a dazzling array of uniquely painted wild flowers. The entire expanse is intently observed by brilliant red-breasted robins with a special telescopic eye for moving worms.
Such an idyll recognizes me as part of the summer flow.  


July 21, 2016

Every summer since my earliest memory there have been riots in the city streets. When I was in my twenties I lived in Roxbury, a depressed part of Boston. The residents were burning homes down and at the same time throwing rocks at the firemen so they could not put the fires out. The nation was appalled.

This year we have young police being gunned down in ambushes, and black and white shooting each other.  As president Obama said, “This must stop”.

I cannot watch this on the internet anymore. My heart is broken and ashamed.

We are told in Psalm 97 that “the Light dawns for the just”. Please Lord, let the words of the psalm become a reality.


July 7 - 20, 2016



The raspberries have dropped their flowers and the berries are starting to form. Last year was apparently the seven-year pause. No berries. Now this year shows a dazzling crop of berries in the making. The rhythm of the berries is one more reminder of the cycle of life. I see this rhythm of a seventh year pause expressed in nature. Yet I continue to struggle to live attentive to this reality.
I attempt to be still and breath consciously. It is a contemplative state lived out in real time. 
I must confide that I have this mind that is averse to slowing down like a bicycle without breaks. It comes from years of trying to keep up with a demanding schedule.
Perhaps with the seventh anniversary of my life in the Hermitage this fall, I will be able to get off the bike at last.   


June 30, 2016


These long days of summer are brilliant. People who live in Maine have taken to the streets every weekend with any excuse for an outdoor festival.

For my part, I spend considerable time sitting in the silent conifer forest which lines the banks of the seashore.

When you live this far north, the summer days are venerated.

Here at the most Eastern point in the United States, the sunsets below the western horizon are discernible in increments from the solstice in December to the solstice in June and then back again.

I have marked a different tree at the edge of the forest to mark each increment of sunset.

I am fortunate to be able to sit in my bed and watch the change each early evening.

Our lives are anchored and measured by those incremental movements. We are each molded in this palm of Gods hand. 

 

June 23, 2016



My great grandmother would make flowers with colored Kleenex and a bobby pin. She would put the Kleenex flowers on all the family graves. However, the morning dew would wilt them and the colors would run together. As a little boy, it was a horrid sight to behold. With the delicate blooms of the Peony flowers, I realized what she was going for and how miserably she failed.
Looking back now, I understand that at least she tried to make something beautiful to share. However, nothing is a successful substitute for real Peony blooms. They are a spectacular yet transitory creation of the natural world.
Great grandma Lena came to this country on a boat from Naples. She was much better at pizza than Peonies.


June 16, 2016



I have observed that most people feel that time is flying past with little opportunity to mark its progress and live each moment deliberately.
The pressure of things that need to be accomplished robs us of the present.
With the dawn of the 2016 summer solstice, one of life’s key moments is upon us.
Backed by a soundtrack mainly of orchestral insects, the silence of winter gives way to summer vitality.
The many buds on the peony bushes excites my anticipation of the glory of unfolding summer.  


June 9, 2016


The hidden road took two years to break through the thick vines and undergrowth. It ends on a granite promontory overlooking an azure cove on the ocean.

A fresh water spring had formed a pool under the road and the four-wheel drive vehicle sank in the mud up to the rims of the wheels.

Unexpected sink holes recur on the road of life with a stiff jolt. I realized that in this situation on the hidden road, I could spin my wheels in the mud and sink deeper or with a gentle rocking from forward to reverse I might get out of the quagmire. Released from the mud, the dogs and I reached the end of the hidden road and stood on the promontory in awe of the view.

The hidden roads we travel often hold many surprises and sometimes great satisfaction.   


June 3, 2016


The intense bouquet of lilacs on the front stoop makes me thrilled by cascades of memories that move me. Though evolution reduced our faculty for smell in favor of 3D color vision, there remains a primal delight in various smells.

I can still distinguish the aroma of each of my aunt’s Italian gravy. The invasion of these memories makes the hair on my neck stand up.

The fragrance of French Lavender that grew on the hill sides of Santa Monica, transports me four thousand miles away.

The spiritual experience of burning incense in church marks key moments on my journey in life.

The derivation of the word “smell” is “to burn” in the memory and in the heart. 


May 26, 2016



The forsythia bloom in great yellow bushes along the side of the Hermitage barn. The branches are neither manicured nor restrained by any human hands. They grow with wild unbridled intense yellow tentacles with no remorse for their lack of symmetry.
I must laugh at their abandon and unrestrained love to thrive. Their zest to overwhelm the red barn in a loving embrace demonstrates the plants whimsical playfulness. 
There is no audience for this spring frivolity except for us who live in the Hermitage. There is no recording of the applause for excellence of show.
Like us, life itself is the only witness to this wonder.   


May 19, 2016


Travelling from the deep forests of Kazakhstan to Maine took about three million years. Now apples are Maine’s biggest crop with many species having evolved particular to the climate of Northern Maine. The Hermitage property has five apple trees that I have discovered so far. Each tree is unique and represents a distinct evolution. On the 200,000 acres of apple trees in Maine, the wildlife feeds itself all winter. The new farming movement by young “Hippies” has recognized the need to rescue the trees from crowding and their direct access to sunlight blocked by bigger trees. I spent the day clearing the ground around the apple trees and pouring organic fertilizer around the drip line of the tree. The fact that it was raining all day helped the fertilizer to drain down to the roots.

Each of us has DNA that is unique to us and needs protecting from crowding. We need access to natural sunlight which is often blocked by large buildings. We need our space cleared from Twitter and Facebook. We need organic fertilizer to clean our growing roots of toxins. The ritual of caring for the unique and tenuous Apple trees of Northern Maine reflects the Liturgical dance of our spiritual selves.



April 28, 2016


“Every man,” Thoreau once recorded in his journal, “tracks himself through life.”  Thoreau meant that the individual in all his readings, his travels, his observations, would follow only his/her own footprints through the snows of this world. He would see what his temperament dictated; hear what voices his ears allowed him to hear, and not one wit more. This is the fate of every man. The geography of knowledge springs from the landscape of our senses and is impressed on our consciousness. Shared concepts are the domain of language.

Yet, as I crawl on the ground preparing the soil to accept seed and observe the immense abundance of sentient beings living in the soil, I glimpse my origins. On all fours with my nose to the ground, I track myself as I evolved from star dust to dirt to organic life.

The ability to imagine a better future is God’s gift to everyman.


April 14 - 27, 2016


“April is the cruelest month” wrote T.S. Elliot in his poem “The Wasteland”.

As I look out the windows here at the Hermitage in mid-April, the trees are gray and devoid of leaves, the ground is brown and the dawn of spring seems like a tease.

I have several hundred baby green vegetable plants in pots in all the windows ready for the passing of possible frost. The Hermitage looks like the garden of Babylon. I sit prepared for a spring miracle.

It occurs to me that confident anticipation is the framework for miracles to happen in our lives. The utter power of positive thinking can and does make things happen. The silver lining can only manifest itself with the assurance of faith.

May that faith produce miracles in your life today. 


April 7, 2016


Yesterday at dusk, several hundred cow birds swooped from the sky for a visit at the Hermitage seed display. They gorged themselves to the point where flying any distance needed to be delayed by a rest in the surrounding fir trees. Walking to the barn with the St. Bernard’s, I could hear the cow birds, hidden in the trees, with their bubbly, creaking songs. They were as happy as millennials at a “Rave” party. After an hour they flew away.

A little research into cow birds brought me face to face with another, darker facet of their life style.

In times past, cow birds followed herds of Buffalo and with the constant movement the birds were left with little time or place to build a nest and raise their babies.

The female cow bird, then as now, lay a single egg in several nests of native song birds; baby cow birds push out other eggs and babies and the cow bird babies are raised by foster parents.

The result is a growing loss of native songbirds in the forest. I fear most for the singing Robins.

Even though I find this scenario shocking, I am struck by the lavish attitude towards life nature employs to guarantee basic survival.   


March 31, 2016


An early spring snow storm snatched the Hermitage back from a full frontal celebration of spring. Even the Robins found they returned a week early but made the best of the situation at the bird feeder. The little Chick-a-dee seems comfortable with in the transition of every season.

The beach at Weir Cove flips from white snow to brown beach grass back to white snow with all the fanfare of changing a shirt.

Clearly the forest creatures adapt to “what is so” with a big “so what”.

I have become less rigid and more fluid living so close to the land. I recognize myself in the flow of the changing landscape.

It has taken six years to shift down from a space of full steam ahead to a space called neutral, especially in my head.

I have discovered in this neutral space that now I have time to see the details in life.


Easter, 2016


The Blessing of Easter

Is only fully experienced

In the recognition of the Risen Jesus

In the stranger. (LK:24)

May the risen Jesus be recognized in all  you meet.



March 17, 2016

 

The Palm Sunday story of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem shows variations in all four of the gospel accounts of the event. Much license is taken by the authors to enhance their agenda and particular understanding.

Matthew has Jesus riding on two animals at the same time. John imagines palms spread on the ground before Jesus when in truth; palms were not available in Jerusalem. Mark simply says they spread branches. Luke has the crowd spread their most valuable possessions, their outer cloak.

The shocking fundamental story line is that the very crowd that is stirred up to honor Jesus as he enters Jerusalem kills Him in less than a week.

Seeing beyond the story line with piercing eyes of self-involvement will impel each of us to follow the journey from Jerusalem to Golgotha as a journey of personal revelation. 

 

 

March 10, 2016


The spectrum of life is punctuated by key moments. For example: Shakespeare’s seven stages of man, or the seven sacraments which mark significant transitions in life, or the stunning experience of a birth or a death.

I am aware of those ahead of me on the spectrum and those behind me. My place on the spectrum is difficult to hold in my mind, at times relational and yet relative. I mean relative in the sense that all time is relative.

My struggle to hold all other beings on the spectrum in my mind at once is daunting to say the least.

Perhaps if I draw a mental circle around the entire spectrum, I could enclose everyone in the circle of life at once, in the now.

These seem to be the thoughts with which I wrestle in that twilight zone between the end of winter and the dawning spring. This significant transition of nature from death to new life is intense and joyful.


March 3, 2016


Looking like a poke-dot cow hide from Bergdorf draped over an immature skeleton, she timidly peaks her large eared head out the barn door. Her gaze is hooked on the great Norwegian Fiord horse nibbling in the snow for roots.

The Norwegian horse lost her mate last summer and baby cow was brought in to keep her company.

They are an odd pair to see side by side in the pasture.

The cow and the horse became friends, companions, and partners in a new adventure in life. They are in a mysterious resolve to make a life together in spite of significant differences.

Love is where you choose to see it. Here is a lesson on how to see feelings standing in the barn door.               


February 18 - 25, 2016


My elbows are cracking due to the very low humidity caused by the wood stove heat. The other day, I noticed a lotion featured in the grocery store with the familiar name “Jergens”. Applying some to my elbows before bed, I noticed an intense smell from my distant past. This smell stirred up many memories of my mother and aunt.

The power of smell to revive memories reminds me of Marcel Proust and the “Proustian phenomenon” which holds that distinctive smells have more power to revitalize memory than sounds.

Each night I treat myself with a voyage to memories with a bit of Jergens under my nose. I am not sure what is in it, but I anticipate this “aroma therapy” each evening. Perhaps the lotion contains particles of Lilacs, tomatoes on the vine, moss on the floor of the pine forest, and wild clover. Jergens transports me to an experience of ecstasy in familiar surroundings.

Aroma is a sense that we share with many other beings. Aroma is a portal to God as incense is for me.    


February 11, 2016


In an acrobatic extravaganza, the black capped Chickadee works the cylindrical bird feeder which is blowing in the high winds. Hanging by one foot, the Chickadee stretches out to capture seeds. She spills as much as she eats, which provides abundant seeds on the snow for the gracious Mourning Doves.

Neither snow nor rain nor blizzard winds will hamper the resolve of these feather weight Chickadees.

The friendly and inquisitive tiny state bird is an inspiration of focus and motivation in the throes of Lent and a model companion on the journey to Easter. 


February 4, 2016



Since I do not stare in mirrors, I do not see any outward sign of the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

In the Gospel for Ash Wednesday, Matthew quotes Jesus saying, when you fast, wash your face and groom yourself so your fasting may not be seen by men but only by your Father. (Matt 6: 17-18)

Jesus makes a stunning break with the ancient tradition of wearing sack cloth and ashes.

Isaiah outlines a path through Lent that attends to the needs and appearance of others. Isaiah makes Lent a journey to restore social justice.

“Loose the bonds of wickedness                                      

Let the oppressed go free

Share your bread with the hungry                                                   

Bring the homeless poor into your home” (Isaiah 58: 6-9)

 

One’s relationship to his fellows reveals one’s relationship to God (see Lk 10: 25-37)

Do not look in the mirror to see Lent but look at the one beside you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

January 21 - 28, 2016

She is a lipstick blond with long, flirting eyelashes. She loves make-up, whether it is a hot clean towel for her face or a proper roll in the winter mud.

Each winter, Zoey, the Hermitage rescue Icelandic pony, breaks out with a series of small bumps on the side of her muzzle. The condition is easy to cure with cleaning with anti-bacterial soap and an application of 

“Hibiclens” lotion.

I have come to realize that as complex biological animals, we each routinely require attention to various health issues. They are usually minor problems that require intervention.

Keeping “brother ass” in good shape (as St. Frances called his body) is a labor intensive responsibility.

For us with frontal lobes in our big brains, emotional feelings need to be surrounded by a cone of tolerance. Regrets and failed expectations make demands on our peace of mind.

Each morning, as I wash and medicate Zoey’s muzzle, I feel an intimate communion with her. Our bond elucidates the loving potential possible with brother ass.  


January 14, 2016


Ice and rain whirl across the broad snow covered North pasture creating a glistening slope down to the ocean shore. During the night, the blizzard will shift and come from the Northeast, (from Canada), with fifty mile per hour winds.

This constantly changing winter weather makes for disconnected conversations at the dentist and the focus of conversations with the “I.G.A” butcher. Feelings are not hurt and indiscretions are not revealed when you limit talk to the weather. And everyone gets to have an opinion.

The “snow-birds” are gone to Florida and Phoenix. The winter brings solitude and silence. The snow (as white as your mother’s all cotton sheets) is a spectacular back drop for the black capped “chickadees”, the tiny State bird, which remain in Maine all winter bringing cheer and their magic in miniaturization.

The Rhododendrons each sport a burlap coat to combat the weight of the ice.

In the village, colored chimney pots direct the smoke from the wood stoves.

I have a purple eggplant and lipstick-red peppers dancing in garlic in the cast iron skillet. I think I will add a sweet potato and have it for lunch. Outdoors the ice and snow whirl across the pasture.  


January 7, 2016


The temperature was seventeen below zero (-17) last night. However, there is no photograph to show it. Most of the time, eyes do not reveal feelings. In this case there is only the numbing feeling.

The nine turkeys are in front of the barn eating corn that I put out for them. They seem unaffected by the temperature. “Georgia”, the hermitage St. Bernard, eats the snow and lying on the frozen ground is all smiles. Clearly, many extremes in life are not recognized by our eyes.

The sense of feeling is acute for us humans. “Hurt feelings” often endure. Perhaps “hurt feelings” are the source of much of the consternation we experience in life. I know of many folks who carry “hurt feelings” to the grave. It is at these times that memory of the past controls our present.

I am comforted and blessed that here in January 2016, the absolute present now provides the discipline to live like the turkeys and St. Bernard, in the wonder of life.


New Year, 2016


For some folks, New Years is a way “to put a cap on 2015 and its circumstances”. For other folk the New Year is a chance to “play the Lottery”. There is a big hope for a winning year. Good luck with that!  And the enlightened see the New Year as an opportunity to participate in life’s brilliant progressive changes in the environment – Winter-Spring-Summer-Fall.

When I turned 20 years old, the prospect of 40 years old sounded like enough.

When I turned 40 years old, the prospect of 60 years old seemed like plenty.

Now that I am 73 years old and there will never be enough time for all I wish to accomplish.

May the New Year shower you with blessings of health and prosperity.


Christmas, 2015


 …“But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (LK2:19)

To ponder is not only to think about the Shepherds words but also to be open to feeling the experience.

In our present society it is much easier to express our thoughts than to express true feelings.

To feel is an investment, participation.

May you feel and participate with Mary in the reality of the birth of Jesus.






December 17, 2015


Without calendars or watches, the animals and fowl of the Hermitage are in tune with the seasons and the changing length of daylight. Zoey and Lokkur, the Icelandic horses know that dinner is early since it is getting dark by 3:00 P.M. The goats, Rosie and Lilly run home to the barn at 2:00 P.M. for their snack. And Georgia is always ready to eat!

As we edge closer to the winter solstice (Dec 22), this third week of Advent is about putting on a new attitude of joy, regardless of the circumstances of life.

The coming solstice event is blessed by the celebration of the birth of Christ and soon a new year 2016.

I am told the hot toys for this Christmas is anything electronic. I wonder where the “cabbage patch” dolls have gone!


December 10, 2015


Breaking the long silence of the night, some ice sliding off the metal roof started the dogs barking. I sat up in bed aroused by the cacophony and aware these were the dark days leading to the winter solstice.

A poem from the book of Baruch in the Hebrew Scriptures frees us from the slides at night.

Take off the garment of your sorrow and anxiety, your needless worry and paralyzing fears and see the coming new light.

“Every high mountain and the everlasting hills (will) be made low and the valley filled up to make level ground.” (5:7)

The burdens of life, as exemplified here in nature, are slowly melted in this second week of Advent.


December 3, 2015


In my experience, standing in line for anything is the new penance “of bread and water’. I thank God there are never any lines in Downeast Maine. We just don’t have enough people!

Waiting can be tolerated if you are assured of a happy ending. However, in life, certitude of any kind is indeed rare.

This is the first of four weeks of Advent which culminates with Christmas and the winter solstice. Advent is by definition a time of waiting and anticipation. Unlike the circumstances of life, Advent is a season of predetermined certitude, like the coming of spring.

All our lives are focused on achieving certitude, but certitude is only realized within a cone of tolerance.

The darkest and sometimes sad days of winter will yield to new life in spring.

For now, we move slowly toward that new life and hope.



November 26, 2015



In November of 1621, as today, some 506 years later, the arrival of brother winter in New England makes folks grateful for a good harvest. No longer an Agrarian culture, “a good harvest” may be a good job, life fulfilling relationships, a faith full of gratitude, or abundant satisfaction.

The tradition of celebrating blessings, even in the face of lack challenges our perspective of  security. For many folks the challenge is a bit like the two perspectives of money: either you have none or you don’t have enough.

To be satisfied with “what is” does not negate the pursuit of a better life, but allows us to set out with peace. 


November 19, 2015


A thirty year old Mainer who served in the battles of Iraq and now has two little boys and a fine wife, comes in the morning to cut and split trees for fire wood for his home. As a result, he has cleared a remarkable open view to the ocean and the dramatic swift changing of the tide in Weir Cove.  The tide’s vertical change can be as much as fifty feet. I never realized such a panoramic view waited behind a few trees. Watching the rushing water makes life seem powerful and certain. The immense surging tide emits life energy to all on the perimeter.  I envy the seabirds that nose dive into the water for fish.

I live on the edge of the cove and am showered with blessings to be an observer of the unexpected vision of the rhythm of life.   


November 12, 2015


I felt older and more inhibited at 37 than I do now at 73.

At 37, the direction of my career, the state of my finances, the fate of my relationships, and the disappointment with politics all seemed to weigh me down along with the burden of being sexually normal. (Whatever that means).

At 73 my career is resolved, finances are in neutral, relationships are few but treasured, politics is like Disneyland, and sex is a memory.

I am more comfortable with myself at 73. Thanks to a regimen of Beta blockers I take for my heart, my life contains less surprises and more awe.

Being 73 finds me willing to entertain more new ideas and fear less the old ideas.  I anticipate with enthusiasm the future which is hidden in the next season.

I splash in the delightful new discoveries of young animals and observe the circle of life as natural.


October 29 - November 11, 2015


We have lived with them for some 10,000 years. Yet if you call them, they will never respond. They may, and do follow you, but on their terms and love to watch without any understanding. I think that is why they are adorable.

Surprisingly, they do not eat grass, but love dried leaves on dead branches. They are called browsers and will eat a bite out of any garden produce and then loose interest.

They are silent as ghosts except when they are “in season”.

As a friend to horses, eating with them in their horse stalls, there is no equal. A lone horse is thrilled with their friendship.

Rosie and Lilly, the Hermitage goats, are uncomplicated and constantly in a good mood.

They are devoted friends, always at your side and curious for the sake of curiosity.

They make me smile !


October 22, 2015


With the first hard freeze of winter this last Sunday, the reality of a new season fills my heart with anticipation of nature’s next great show.

The wood stove is aglow for the winter and the Saint Bernards, grateful for the cold, linger outdoors.

The forest is revealed by a brilliant soft winter light, just the sort of light that painters love.

The Icelandic ponies step high with their nostrils sucking in the cold air, joyful to be in their element.

All nature has shaken off the lingering haze of summer and the wilting autumn.

We are braced for a frigid winter, the anti-chamber of new life. 


October 15, 2015


I have observed that mothers and daughters, as well as fathers and sons, often exhibit strained relationships. Sometimes the level of tension is shocking and not within the realm of understanding.

Rosie and her daughter Lilly, the Hermitage goats, came to live at the Hermitage three and a half years ago. Rosie had to be milked throughout the long cold winter. Thus an intimate bond formed between us. Lilly was born with a neurological affliction which has diminished over time. The two sleep entwined, share all their meals and special snacks, constantly keep an eye on each other as they move outdoors on adventures, and are intimate friends.

Humans in parent-child relationships are invested in a giant ego and often their expectations clash. I am struck by Rosie and Lilly’s “loving kindness”. There seems to be a more gentle spirit among herbivores. Mother and daughter live in harmony and respect.

As I live with them I am in great admiration.


October 8, 2015


It is the height of the harvest season here at the Hermitage, when all the “sweat of your brow” is turning into blessing with abundant food. The apple butter, which I made from a wild green apple tree on the Hermitage property and the rose-hip jam, made from beach rose bushes at the edge of the shore are finished. Next I am off to process kale and make blueberry preserves and raspberry preserves from berries picked here. I have made ten large batches of tomato sauce with Hermitage yellow, orange, and red tomatoes mixed with fresh yellow summer squash. I put each batch in the freezer for pizza sauce on those cold February nights. I will process the leeks and green onions next week.

What a blessing to eat food grown on the Hermitage land.

In this throw away world, these abundant gifts from the good earth honor God.

This changes my perspective on nourishment.


October 1, 2015


Transition is change from one stage to another. Miss Henny (the last of the Hermitage hens) is now “the last leaf on the tree.”  She has transitioned from her empty condo of memories, to a new home in the warm barn for winter.

To make her comfortable, I grow sprouts in a cookie sheet and she enjoys strolling and pecking among them.  I also cut up a large strawberry for her each day. How she loves to hunt and peck at the bright red pieces.

Now living in the barn, she is at eye level which makes for visits by the dogs and goats. I am able to have intimate conversations with her as long as I stay within the range of thirty clucks.

Many of us have transitioned from a house to a condo. Sometimes our environment changes against our will. Henny’s transitional trauma is soothed by a joyful welcome and loving care.

We all hope for such a transition as we move through the stages of life. The inclusion of a private safe nest seems of utmost importance. 


September 23, 2015


The incessant honking did not sound like a traffic jam. (God forbid such a sound could happen in Down East Maine.) Yet a cacophony of honking came from yonder over the barn. The sound was getting louder every second. Suddenly, between the tops of the great fir trees, and situated directly in front of the low autumn sun, a large flock of Canadian geese shot through the sky, like a fleet of Alabama rockets, heading south for the winter. Brother winter was on their heels!!

All the Hermitage animals are well into growing their winter coats.

My mind turned to finding extra heavy sweat shirts and ice cleats for my boots.

The fall equinox was only yesterday, but winter will be early this “El Nino” year.

As I write, I am making pasta sauce from the meaty red tomatoes from the garden. I am also making sauce from the yellow tomatoes (less acid). I will freeze the sauces for when the taste will flood my memory on those blizzard prone February nights.

Apple butter, rose-hip jam, blueberry as well as raspberry jams are all in the making as my mind wanders with the passing Canadian geese. God willing, I will be here to welcome them home next spring.  


September 17, 2015


She never speaks a word to me,

She feels my face against her face,

We stand eye ball to eye ball,

She feels my body tight against hers,

She snorts, I softly chant, we communicate.

Zoey (the Hermitage Icelandic pony) and I

Use the comfort of touch

To form a tight relationship.

Touch is the method of non-speaking animals

To speak and heal as well.


September 10, 2015


I feel blessed by the abundant harvest this year, especially with such a cool summer. The Giant Russian sunflowers put me in mind of “The Wizard of Oz” and Munchkin land!

The seeds for this garden were planted indoors last April. It took until June for the cold weather to turn cool so I could put the plants outdoors.

All growth is determined by rain and temperature as the folks in Southern California know well.

But when is the weather not unusual?

Every farmer is very aware of weather and its consequences. We and our animals and farm work are extremely aware and sensitive to God’s creation at work.   Clearly we are at the mercy of the weather in all seasons.

For me, the blessings of this harvest season are captured in my joy of growing the giant sunflowers.




September 3, 2015

September 8th is the Sixth Anniversary of Stella Maris Hermitage and twenty six years of priesthood.

Thank you for your friendship and support during these years in the Northern Forest. You are in my heart and prayers during this vigil.


August 27, 2015


From the day five years ago, as Stella and I watched little hen exiting her egg, we could tell she was the smallest chick of her brood. Perhaps her diminutive size spurred her on to be the most animated chicken in the lost.

She would always fly to the top of the chicken condo and loved to be petted.

Now, the last of her sisters, she lived an enchanted life in our assisted living facility. Last week she hurt her leg and could not keep her balance.

What to do? Was she in pain? Should I pull her plug?

I decided to wait, gave her lots of cut-up strawberries for hydration and nutrition. She sat in her nest for five days. Then suddenly, she was healed!

She came running to get her strawberries and I learned to believe in miracles once again.  


August 20, 2015



This has been close to a year without a summer in Maine. We consider ourselves fortunate to have the temperature reach 70 degrees most days.

On the internet this morning, The New York Times, predicted that this winter El Nino would bring the most rain in years to California. For us in Maine, El Nino will bring the return of the numbing Polar Vortex.

But then I think, when has the weather not been strange!

Loren Eiseley said; “The triumph of mammals and birds is the ability to maintain a stable inner “warm blooded” body regardless of the outside temperature.”

And so we live in two prisons: one very public and one very personal.  The external universe displays the glory of nature, the horror of war, and the “otherness” of life. The personal universe can be lonely, creative, and obviously introspective. It has its own angst, preserves heart aches, reveals miracles, all filtered through a Spiritual lens.

Mammals and birds created the world of dreams out of their solitude. May we each dream and imagine fully.  


August 13, 2015



This week the green buds of the sunflower bloomed into dazzlingly vivid yellow sun discs.

Each flower reflects “the Atman of my soul and individual souls”. The seeds of the flower are destined for families of birds this winter. The birds will eat the seeds and randomly leave them to grow new sunflower plants this spring.

How simple! How not tenuous and uncomplicated! Such close at hand observation teaches me much about the lack of focus we humans endure.

The privilege of being present during the growth and flowering of the sunflower reflects the lightness of being of the Atman in us all.   


August 6, 2015


The six foot stalks of the sunflower plants rotate their leafy tops to track the optimal sun as it moves high across the August sky. With ten sunflower plants just out the window, they act as living sun dials ready to focus directly into the eye of the sun.

The tendency of a plant or animal to grow and turn in response to an external stimulus, either by attraction or repulsion, is called a tropism. We humans respond to this external stimulus all day long.

How clever of the sunflower to take advantage of this tropism to benefit itself with such clarity.

Often we are unaware of our response to such stimuli.


July 30, 2015

For 4800 years the living pea plant has thrived on the earth.

This is the first year I have planted  peas in the Hermitage gardens. Suddenly, I find myself in awe of the antiquity of this sentient being alive and blooming beside me. The peas taste unusually sweet and constitute a communion with nature and God’s creation.

Unexpectedly, I saw the irony of the present moment. I am alive at 72 years of age with a gift of food that is almost five thousand years old.

What a unique perspective this realization affords me. Without warning, my view of life in the context of five thousand years is revealed and established. Everything living occupies a place in THIS space of now. All things seem possible. 


July 23, 2015



Perhaps he is thirty-something; he certainly is an extraordinarily pleasant man. He has held the position of butcher and seafood man at the IGA grocery store in Lubec for several years. I remember one frozen February day with few shoppers in the store; he spoke of his personal life. This is most unusual in Downeast Maine.  He told me he lives alone and his favorite thing to do in the evening was to light a candle and read a good book.

Last week, in the butcher room in the back of the store, I noticed he was very upset. He was flushed and uncommonly agitated. I asked him what was wrong. He told me that three men, dripping with gold jewelry and wearing very expensive clothes, complained to him that in Texas, his ground beef would not be fit for dogs. They were very rude to him; extremely loud; and obnoxious. In the end they bought all the supply of “baby back ribs” and proceeded to the checkout person. The butcher followed them to the register.

The men from Texas paid with food stamps and drove off in a new Cadillac Escalade.

The tiny fishing town in Maine had been raped by conspicuous consumers from Texas.  


July 16, 2015



I suspect that the magnitude of the Hermitage fields of wild flowers this summer can only be explained by the depth of the ghastly past winter.

This summer, the robins sing louder, the cow birds scream more, and the mourning doves seem more committed. The rabbits are bigger than Alice could imagine in Wonderland.

The intense push of the wildflower blossoms remind me of Thanksgiving night at Walmart, with a thousand heads pushing their way up in frenzy to get the “loss leader”. However, in the case of the wildflowers, the “loss leader” they are after is the sun. Aren’t they smart! 


July 2 - 14, 2015



At sunset, for five years now, the Hermitage hens fold each other in their red feathered wings and sleep in peace. The hens have been retired and living in the Hermitage assisted living condo for several years.

Slowly, one after another of the hens have passed away. The beautiful old hen who passed away last night has left the Hermitage with one last lonely hen. I can hear her crying out tonight for the loving touch of her sisters. I have been trying to console her with bits of dandelions and singing sweet songs to her.

 I feel helpless and sad. These genuine human feelings extend across all boundaries. I want to hold these feelings of sadness and helplessness in context. Not in the context of the grand scheme of the circle of life, but in the very intimate “now” when they are happening.

To deliberately be present in such feelings and not ignore them, is the key to health, wholeness, and spiritual insight.  


June 25, 2015



I kneel with reverence at the peony bed looking at the sensual flowers, white, yellow, pink, and magenta. The size of these outrageous blooms are as big as my St. Bernard’s head “Hank,” who is in the picture. Drawn in, I look for a long time into the flowers where one short instant equals a whole year of anticipation. This “fancy dress” version of the buttercup family, has blooms of honeyed heaviness and lush trembling. Their eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment before they are nothing jolts my consciousness to be present.


Perhaps this haiku says it best.


I’ll make it my bed


In the next world-this peony-peony blossoms


that’s what I’ll sleep on in paradise. (issa. D.1823)


June 18, 2015


The dirt road off the highway which leads to the Hermitage is one half mile long, perfectly straight, and bordered on each side by giant wild blackberry bushes. It crosses over a beaver pond and deer keep a watchful eye from behind the dense fir trees. The road cost one thousand dollars per winter to keep plowed which is required for insurance.

There is a gate at the highway entrance to the road and the Hermitage cannot be seen.

This direct approach to the Hermitage is “made straight” as the bible promised, but is fraught with difficulties as life promises.

I love how straight the road is, but the road provides no way to turn around for trucks and plows and is filled with pot holes.

The road to the Hermitage is like our life; at first glance straight and easy, but with closer inspection is lacking in rest areas and cell service.

Once you maneuver the road, there is peace, and solitude, and spiritual fecundity.  


June 11, 2015


As a priest, hugs and all sorts of innocent touches had become a political liability which made me feel sad.  The lack of touch as honest communication left me disconnected and feeling unfulfilled.

That being said; June 15th is our Hermitage Saint Bernard “Hank’s tenth birthday. Here is a being who’s key to full and accurate communication of love is centered on touch and not on ambiguous words.

Hank and I have slept together every night for ten years. Back to back, each gently pushing on the other, with blessed assurance, Hank is my soul mate. This tangible experience of touch is a profound and fulfilling human response to my feelings.

For all of us, love resides where we chose to see it. Touch is the key to discerning the truth of love.. Love has no preconceived shape or size. It manifests itself with no specific age, ethnicity, or gender.

Love is not restricted except when we restrict it.  

June 4, 2015

Each morning I hesitate in bed to look out at the Aspens to see if they bloomed during the night. I discovered after many springs anticipating the new mint leaves, that is seems always to happen in the privacy of night.

When the Aspens first bloom, they look like popcorn trees. They display thousands of round white “popcorn” balls that will develop into leaves. But first the popcorn balls turn into “silver dollars” trembling at the end of a string. Today there are rows of Aspens with more “silver dollars than Vegas.

You must maintain a vigil at the forest edge to capture the moment of “transfiguration”. It is a magic moment.

This spring event is a notch on the wheel of time that comes around only once a year.

The lilacs have reached their notch in time this week and the peonies are a few notches behind.

Animals and humans have their various notches on the wheel of time during this year of grace 2015.

I seem to favor the “popcorn” balls over the “silver dollars”. Perhaps because the “popcorn” explodes with a sudden burst in my heart and all creation seems to respond in sync with a yearning for accessories.    


May 28, 2015


Tim’s sister, a brave, sensitive hen, died this week.

A few years ago, just when the roosters were reaching puberty, a number of roosters born from another group of eggs attacked Tim. It was a savage, well planned attack and they pecked at Tim drawing blood.  Tim’s sister jumped on her brother and covered him to protect him from the roosters thus putting her own life in peril.

At that time and now at her death, I find myself reflecting on her virtues of protection, bravery, and fearlessness: love in action. Some may believe these are only human virtues, but clearly they are shared and made manifest by many other sentient beings. What a remarkable impression this courageous hen has made on me.

The world of humans should remember her in the face of ISIS beheadings and the other horrors in which humans engage. Reflecting on this marvelous hen should give us pause to think.


May 21, 2015


Awakened at 2:00 A.M. by what I first thought was BB gun shots in the next room, I rose hesitantly and put on the light. I could see nothing amiss and went to my desk. On the floor I noticed a large pine cone I had brought in from a walk and laid on my desk that afternoon. The warmth of the room had apparently signaled the time for this ancient wooden flower to propel its spores. Like an “Alabama rocket” the spores shot across the room in search of a place to grow a new pine tree. I had witnessed ancient floriculture playing out its drama on my desk.

Returning to bed, I could not sleep. The great clock of life had demonstrated in the wooden flower that nature is on a schedule. We can observe its elegance and intricacy in the forces that drive it.

Our own biology is on the clock. Time is the oil that lubricates the movement. Our awareness of the system both thrills and frightens us.

We also have left our wooden flowers on the floor and are propelled into unknown territory by ancient forces of imagination.

The bleeding hearts” have bloomed and in their delicate design we see the hope and beauty of our future. 

May 14, 2015


It has been a long winter in the barn for “Rosie and Lilly” the resident Nigerian goats. During the winter, very close friendships evolved with “Zoey” the Icelandic pony. They took all their meals together. Zoey would push her hay with her nose within the reach of the goats.

Now, Zoey runs in the pasture with her pal Lokkur, and the goats run the length of the deck keeping a watchful eye on Zoey. It is true that horses and goats bond very close.

This is the season for shedding winter coats and “putting on a new face”. I have observed that local folks as well as the animals seem bright and hopeful with this May weather after this dreadful winter.

Nature changes her garment four times a year at the Hermitage and we are all changed and renewed with each intense season.

Today is the feast of the Ascension. In the early Church the feast of the Transfiguration and the Ascension were treated as one event and celebrated as one. I propose that all of us are transfigured by each season. The city may well mitigate our awareness of the change and renewal. But a close look at the world of nature will inform our hearts and souls of God’s grace.



May 7, 2015

Short and stout, which gives it an armored ball appearance, the black Maine porcupine, heavy with babies, waddled her way out of the forest. She was after the corn which I had put out for the turkeys

Without my glasses, she appeared to have no head or tail. But better vision exposed her magnificent proportions.

I kept the dogs in the Hermitage, remembering Hank’s encounter last year with a baby porcupine in the raspberry thickets. The baby’s quills that surrounded his mouth were small and immature. They were easy to remove. However, this giant porcupine was at her prime and defending her unborn babies.

 I feared she would go into the barn. So respecting her distance, I ever so slowly moved toward her and she slowly moved back into the forest.

When confronted by threatening, heavily armored strangers, either four footed or two footed, with quills or a cutting vicious tongue, it seems best to give them respect and a lot of space.

I always do.  


April 30, 2015



The snow is gone ! The pasture is clear of drifts and Zoey and Lokkur, the Hermitage resident ponies are ecstatically rolling in the mud pools. The Saint Bernards search for random snow drifts behind the barn and jump in the snow as fish take to water. Even Rosie and Lilly, the hermitage goats, are off on excursions. Only the old retired hens remain for another few weeks in the warmth of the barn. The piece de resistance is the five enormous wild turkeys who have returned from their winter holiday.

A new season has dawned as 2015 heads for the summer solstice.

If “time is always now”, as the Buddha says, then the thrill of each moment can be in 4K HD.  


April 16, 2015

Not much larger that a baking dish for brownies, the solar collector sits on top of the gate fence post and sends a slight electrical current through the five strands of wire that enclose the one acre pasture. The system has worked fine for five years with no back up from anything or anyone. It is anonymous electric marvel powered by the sun.

Each spring, the Saint Bernard’s and I walk the perimeter of the fence to take up the slack in the wires which the heavy snow pulled down.

Mending fences in the cold early morning of April, side-stepping three foot snow drifts and boot sucking mud, the whole experience seems rather primitive yet at the same time essential.

These fences are intended to keep the horses in the pasture. With a little thought we may discover the many fences in our personal lives that are mended constantly to keep us out.

The fences I am mending are to keep everyone safe and healthy. With half frozen, red, rigid fingers, I bend and clip wires. I tried gloves, but it is impossible to work with them.

May the fences that are holding you back, not be rebuilt or mended this spring. 



 April 16, 2015

In these waning weeks of intense seasonal solitude, with roads bounded by fantastic mounds of snow and the paths through the forest
that lead to the beach impassable, with snow which is still unsupportable. I find myself blocked in most directions and can only see over the snow dunes.
Perhaps my vision of the possible has been limited by three months of blizzards.
Yet, the light is clear and strong in nature. This garment of God may be all white and sparkling from clinging ice, but something tremendous is happening. The forces of resuscitation and even new life are winning. Winter is being transformed into Spring. Mind you, this transformation is
not a straightforward process but shifts back and forth between seasons.
Often for me, the seasons of life seem to slip and sometimes feel like they are moving forward and backward at the same time. Transformation can be like that.

April 9, 2015



Perhaps it is the weight of the drifts that makes them compact in time or the slight tremor of the planet that acts to shake the great mounds down. Here in the Easter season, just the very tops of the lilac and forsythia bushes are now visible at the top of the snow drifts. A couple of peony bushes have pushed enough snow to show a stem here and there.

The mourning doves and Canadian geese have come home. The Chickadee have never left.

Many more squirrels and small ground animals are poking through the snow from inside their tunnels. It seems the land itself is struggling to set itself free from the burden of the ice.

Easter has declared itself and I am expecting spring some day soon. The last possible frost day is June first !!!!!

We each have a predetermined number of seasons to experience in our lives. When the reality of any season passes unnoticed we forfeit a dear price. Deliberate living at the Hermitage is about the experiences of the seasons of life. The philosopher Spinoza describes nature “as the great garment of God.”

The city encompasses many distractions, yet a singular focus on the “Spirit” living in our souls will enable us to sort out what is life giving or not.


Easter, 2015


From the first day of February, piercing Ash Wednesday, and encompassing Lent almost up to Easter, Downeast Maine has had continuous blizzards over ten feet high. The Hermitage was cut off from the outside word. No Radio nor T.V. nor news of people.

We were encased in a frozen winter forest with only our thoughts and feelings to crack the isolation.

Out of the deep winter experience evolved an appreciation for solitude and the value of appreciating the hope of a re-born earth hidden in anxious seeds; seeds to truly celebrate the Resurrection at Easter on April 5th, 2015.

May the breath-taking blessings of this Easter surround you and your family.

March 26, 2015


Perhaps it was the ten feet of snow that fell on the spring Equinox that made me crazy in the last reflection. My feet are on the ground now and my soul is in the room. The blizzard of the last few days created a draining, unstoppable wind. The wind chill drove the temperature well below zero degrees.

I am smiling as I write, because I now know of the intensity of the next season to reproduce. I have been watching to see how many of the wild turkeys survived to make the return to the Hermitage this spring. “Sandy”, the resident red squirrel has been here all winter, thanks to Hermitage supplements. Thought the windows on the south side of the Hermitage are covered to the roof by snow drifts, you can often look up to see “Sandy” traveled between the tunnels she made between the glass and the snow drift.

It is a busy word in winter, even for the small animals. I often feel like a voyeur. I enjoy their enthusiasm.

Loren Eiseley wrote a marvelous book entitled ,”The Unexpected Universe” in which he shows the reader a 100% vision of the wonderful world we do not expect to see.

March 19, 2015



With more than nine feet of snow in February, the Saint Bernard’s seemed intent on eating on “ALL the snow” so we would end our month of being snow-bound. Without mail and being cut off from the world, the Saints thought they were in Switzerland with their ancestors.

From my perspective, the snow drifts covering the light from all the windows on the south side of the Hermitage, gave a feeling of perpetual early evening.  

It is not often in today’s world that you can be in perfect solitude for over a month. For the month of February and much of March all that was left possible was to go within my soul for direction. There was all the time in the world in a world that constantly is short of time. I have observed that when life seems that slow you feel at times you are living in a coma or a sur-real world where the impossible can break out at any moment. The experience of being in “the twilight zone” has occurred several times in my life. This time it was the transformation of the physical and spiritual worlds blending into one beautiful woven fabric.

If “Alice” lived on these thirty-five ocean bound acres of Hermitage land, I am sure she would see white bunny rabbits popping in and out of holes leading to new words of experience.

It is March now. Sorry for my absence for so long. Some holes are very deep.

Now on to planting new seeds and watch them grow into a new season of experience.


January 29 - February 11, 2015 Snowbound until March19


Whenever Brother Death visits, I never seem ready for his appearance. Both the beginning of life and the end of life celebrate unique rituals like book ends holding the Hermitage farm together. These passages are two sides of one coin and cannot be ignored. They both are constants that chase each other’s tail in a cosmic circle. I try to embrace this reality, but my human emotions force me to ask the profound questions: “from where does life come?” and “where does it go?”

My precious Saint Bernard, “Hank” is now nine and a half years old. That is old for a giant breed dog. He started to limp this week and my heart became deeply troubled by the prospect of the coming cliff we all face at the end stage of life. I could not sleep nor eat at the prospect of losing his magical presence that has become my refuge during hard times.

I have observed that the end of life seems less traumatic for farm animals. Their living in the absolute now gives me courage to celebrate Hank “in the now”, and leave all other questions unanswered.

Thomas Merton said “leaving questions unanswered takes great faith”. But does anything diminish the pain?


January 22, 2015



New Year
January 8 - 21, 2015

I ordered the honey bees for the garden on January 2nd to be delivered in early June. With the profound shortage of bees, the order must be place in winter. I derive comfort in ordering bees and organic seeds at this time of year. It reminds me that the seasons evolve on schedule, even if for some folks, nature is just an inconvenience. Here at the Hermitage, the seasons are the guiding principle of our life on the land.

With the first snows of the New Year this week, the forest is clothed in “First Communion” white, with the innocence and primitive dignity such pristine splendor captures.

Tracks of “snow-shoe” hares form trails in the snow that seem to lead to the land of “Alice”. The Hermitage occupies the anti-room of “wonderland”. Many times I feel like the “Mad Hatter” serving endless cups of tea by the wood stove.

Your spirit of friendship is always most welcome.


New Year, 2015


Imagine the cornucopia of blessings that await you in the year of our Lord, 2015. This untouched abundance of precious “now” will bring effervescence to a year lived deliberately.

Between the tick and the tock. We live together, shoulder to shoulder, with all creation, devoid of the past, and overflowing with anticipation.

May the New Year shower you with much comfort and joy. 


Christmas, 2014


Each year we imagine Christmas as it was in our memory of years past.

I have observed (finally) that the past is in the past and we find each new Christmas filled with unexpected changes and a new palette of circumstances in our lives. May the blessings of this Christmas come tumbling through your particular circumstances of this past year and be an advent of peace and new found joy.

Celebrate this new and revealing Christmas season as if it were the first time, like “beginners mind”.

My prayer for each of us, is to be prepared to truly celebrate the birth of Christ as a fresh moment in our lives, alive in the now, filled with blessed assurance.



December 4 - 17, 2014


As the winter sun is pulled up from the Eastern horizon, there appear crystals of ice hanging from the fabric of the garden fence. The crystals resemble ornaments woven into the fabric of the matrix.

With a slight rise in this consistent ten degree temperature, the brilliant vision will vanish. The interplay of the ice and snow with the fabric of the dark green fir forest is ephemeral and must be seen in the now.

Not to be seen with the naked eye, a dazzling rainbow is revealed by the camera.

It seems all of the “snow birds” have flown to Florida. I wonder if they know what unique magic secrets the season of winter unveils for the stalwart Mainer. 


Thanksgiving November 27, 2014


It has occurred to me that life in a hermitage might not be obvious to most folks.

 Here, there is nothing to “tune out” since I am not “tuned in”. There is no broadcast T.V., nor radio. There is no telephone. You cannot hear the sounds of cars or any traffic. But you are always welcome to listen to the sound of birds and the wind in the trees. There are no people but only animals who do not talk. This special silence leaves time to intently observe, constantly reflect, and endeavor to appreciate. There are no gatherings or social events nor news about anything or anyone. (The exception is a diminutive use of email for ministry.) One is not exposed to competition, gossip, or envy. No fashion, fades or freeways.

All this absence makes abundant room for deliberate living, intent observation of the seasons, wonder at the circle of life with its growing and dying, and my struggle to control the puzzles perpetuated by stubborn frontal lobes.

I give Thanksgiving for this life in the Hermitage


November 20, 2014

With trailing blond hair and very long eye lashes, she looks you directly in the eye asking for help.  She moves only a few limping steps and does not join Lokkur as he makes his rounds of the pasture. Her hoof is cracked.

I was able to guide her back to her stall in the barn. She limped all the way and each step broke my heart.

I started with the horse vet. He said it was the farrier who would know what best to do.

There is only one farrier in these parts and I tried begging him for several days to make an unscheduled visit to assess Zoey’s condition.  After 3 weeks of “no show” promises to come, he arrived and put a staple in Zoey’s hoof. He said she will heal properly since it was not a serious injury.

The problem with the unpredictable behavior of the farrier is that he is addicted to “Facebook”. Yes, I said “Facebook”. I truly have no idea what addiction to “Facebook” entails, nor do I want to know. I have observed that people can become addicted to almost anything in this hectic world. It seems clear that to nurture satisfaction and peace in a life moving at the speed of light is almost impossible. After 3 weeks of “no show” promises to come, he arrived and put a staple in Zoey’s hoof. He said she will heal properly since it was not a serious injury.

Meanwhile, Zoey is well again and out of pain. That is what matters to me.


November 13, 2014

The Hermitage baby goat “Lilly” suffers from a disorder of the nerves in her rear left leg. I have watched to see if she is in pain. However, I believe it is stiffness like I feel when I first get up. Lilly is a very delicate miniature goat. At full growth now, she is half the size of her mother “Rosie”.

The seven month old Saint Bernard puppy, Georgia”, wants to play with everyone. It is her youthful passion. However, Georgia’s size (now 110 pounds) intimidates Lilly. “Hank” the older Saint has decided to step in and move close to Lilly in order to direct Lilly to her safe living space.

Everyday, Lilly stands at the foot of the great hay stack and quietly eats. Meanwhile, Rosie and Georgia engage in rough play which is a combination of “goat head” butting and puppy barking and dancing.

I realize that the above writing is presented in a small, contained, and safe world. I also realize that there comes into every beings life, difficult moments, a need for occasional attitude adjustments, and the need to develop tools to deal with delicate feelings and powerful emotions.

I am slowly learning about the range of these feelings and emotions by living with these various

animal spirits.

November 5, 2014

We entered the forest from the North West corner of the Hermitage directly over the great granite  mound which has many juniper bushes growing out of it and at this time of year filled with clusters of gray/blue/green juniper berries. The forest was dark but stands of trees had lost their leaves so we could see better than in summer. Georgia and Hank ran ahead around all the close growing trees and they were the first to arrive at the "grand canyon", a dramatic ledge of granite that drop off and forms a canyon filled with birch trees . Most of the trees had a few yellow leaves still clinging on until the first frost. I sat on the edge of the granite among the moss and colored leaves and watched Georgia and Hank drop off the ledge and run through the birch trees and once out of breath struggle to climb back up so we could begin our walk through the close growing pine trees to the stored chicken house from when we had twenty chickens. The houses are white and are in good shape. I cover them with a tarp in winter. It is always special to see them through the trees on this walk. It gives me a sense of my direction.

May chicken houses in the forest guide your direction. Much love, Doug 

October 30, 2014


“Georgia”, is the first Saint Bernard of a long line of female dogs with whom I have lived, that like water, loved splashing in puddles and love coming indoors soaking wet.

It is a challenge to always have a giant towel to dry her at the door, but she seems delighted with herself. She is now beyond my ability to lift her on a scale, but I am sure she is well over 100 lbs. at seven months old.

She is a unique dog –

Uniqueness, I believe, is a virtue to be celebrated and fostered –

Our willingness to imagine ourselves as more than a homogeneous glob is a precious talent –

My mother always worried “What will the neighbors think!!” My response is, "let the neighbor think what they may and live your life as you imagined it".


October 23, 2014


He entered the horse stall and immediately fell on his knees to be at the eye level each horse. Then he swiped his hand across the eyes of the horse to make him/her blink. This process of a profound blink releases the tension the horse builds up from constant chewing with their head down. The pressure that builds behind the eyes of the horse is like a migraine which makes people suffer.

Now, with the horse calm and trusting, the equine dentist can file their teeth in a peaceful dance of horse and man. Frank Vela, the Hermitage Equine Dentist, came for his yearly visit this year on Wednesday. He is fully trained in Naturopathic Dentistry, which means he does not use tranquilizers on the horse but employs the more difficult art form of holistic care and compassion. He is a man I greatly admire.

As a society with an addiction to prescription drugs for every occasion leaves us little able to understand or appreciate this natural form of medicine. We are disconnected to the rhythm of nature and our role of kinship in healing. Perhaps we can start with one true form of healing, a gentle touch.

October 16, 2014


A true delight for me is to observe my Saint Bernard Hank, now nine years old, transmitting his prize knowledge on to my puppy Saint, Georgia. Knowledge of where the best blackberries grow and how to eat them. Knowledge of the Hermitage boundaries and the responsibility of patrolling the area. Knowledge of rounding up chickens gently and playing with goats. Knowledge of his favorite game of chasing Zoey, the Icelandic pony, around the perimeter of the pasture. Knowledge of which side of the bed is his and hers.

I observe this “transmitting behavior” among all the animals and wonder why humans are so resistant to receiving this transmission of wisdom from each other. I believe we were better at this in the past, even the recent past. Perhaps the internet has presented too many other options to follow or perspectives from which to choose. I am not sure this is always an impediment but wonder if the reader can discern value from disvalue. Time will tell. 



August 28 - October 15, 2014

September 8th was the 25th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. To tell the truth, I have become somewhat adverse to counting year and did not realize that it was 25 years until yesterday. I remember well the ten long years of study and preparation for ordination. I honestly thought the day would never come. Now it has been 25 years! Most of those years, in fact twenty of them, were spent in Santa Monica serving the good people of St. Monica Parish Community and surrounding parishes and hospitals.

In the seminary, I dreamed of paddling up the Amazon River in a canoe to serve the poor. However, I ended up paddling down Lincoln Blvd. to serve the city folk of Santa Monica.

I guess we never know ahead if our plans our God’s plans for us. Now, for the past five years, I have been living as a Hermit deep in the woods of Maine.

Most of us have seen our lives take unexpected turns. Sometimes the turns are tangled with sorrow. As a Trappist monk told me many years ago, “Douglas, God has things well planned for you, but He will not show you the blueprint until you get to heaven.”   

August 21, 2014


“I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

The way (path) is a co-operative effort of two beings that share in divinity. It requires love for one another, trust in one another, and loyalty to one another. I realize how fortunate that person is when he/she finds such companionship on the path.

I always respected the prophet Jeremiah for his insight into the human condition. My little Saint Bernard, Georgia, shares in divinity and paw in hand her new experiences in life are the catalyst for the recovered memory of this Hermit.

As you know, I communicate with plants and animals and all sentient beings, as sources of direction on my path. Perhaps you might open your hearts to the loving direction of these beings. In speaking of the remarkable olfactory gift of dogs, Oliver Wendell Holmes is quoted as saying: “Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than any other channel.” 

August 7 - 20, 2014

I hold each leg close to my chest and pick her hoofs on a regular basis in between the Ferrier’s professional trimming every six weeks. So when I saw that Zoey had a slight limp on her front right leg which seemed to be causing enough pain that she would no longer run with her pal Lokkur around the pasture and would not come running when I threw big bins of freshly cut grass over the fence, I began to get worried. She did walk fast and deliberately to the barn at dinner time but it took that much motivation for her to walk.  It was not till the Ferrier came this week and discovered lodged deep in her hoof two stones that we realized the source of her pain. I know having a stone in your shoe hurts a great deal. Poor Zoey could not tell me and it is my responsibility to take the time to check all aspects of her health.

Many of us suffer silently not because we cannot speak like Zoey but for a myriad of other reasons. Maybe no one would care about our suffering. Perhaps we do not feel free to complain. Perhaps it is our pride or our fear of being shunned.

My primary physician in Santa Monica would always say to me that “life IS pain” both physical and psychological. I truly believe that is why compassion is such an important human response. 


July 31, 2014


I am left with 60 bales of hay here at the end of the season.  I made an error in judgment in ordering hay last year. Not only is that $300 in hay left over, but I cannot accept the winter delivery of hay because I have no room. I got the excess hay down from the loft and the floor of the barn is full up.

I have been thinking how I made such a big error in judgment after five years. Clearly fear of running out of hay was part of the force to make me order too much. Sometimes the pressure or circumstances on the particular day for ordering get in the way of making good judgments.  I think my sense of spatial reality was off in deciding the amount to order. In all events, I have too much hay. I misjudged.

Perhaps in making all judgments of every kind, about people, places, or even hay, one needs to check for prejudices and fears that alter our judgments. Also being aware of the particular circumstances at that moment of judgment needs to be discerned to avoid an error in judgment.  I have observed that dealing with hay is one thing, but dealing with people is more important and unfortunately more difficult.  


July 24, 2014


I always thought a plant was simple. It had leaves and was anchored in the earth, not able to move. I never suspected that a plant can roam around and make behavioral decisions by sending out chemical sensors and choosing to attach itself to a particular favorite plant. Ask anyone who grows tomatoes and they will tell you about the “Dodder Vine”, a plant without roots or leaves which roams in search for a host and needs to make a decision about attaching to a host plant in under seventy two hours or it will die. It is also known as the “love vine”, “the devil’s guts”, or “the vampire plant”. The Dodder vine has no brain which we can recognize, but it makes choices, and has a clearly defined mission in life. I have many Dodder vines in the Hermitage gardens. They prefer the tomato plants best.

Buddha said all sentient life participates in divinity. Perhaps we humans have not been enlightened enough to recognize the other many forms of life around us.


July 17, 2014

On the most remote part of the Hermitage property, is a one half acre black raspberry patch that is impenetrable while one is standing. Dogs and animals can run beneath the thorny bows but I get trapped and cut by the very long thorny branches that have arches larger than McDonalds.

This morning, while hiking with the Hermitage Saint Bernard’s, “Hank and puppy Georgia”, Hank ran after a baby porcupine in the underbrush of the raspberry vines.  Once I realized what was happening, I held Georgia from following Hank and cried out for Hank to return to me.

As usual, Hank did come, but he had baby porcupine quills on his upper and lower lips and around his nose. There was a lot of blood. I took him home and used a tweezers to pull the quills out and then washed all the area with antiseptic. Then he fell asleep and I hope dreamed of staying away from porcupines.

We all have “porcupine” experiences in our lives. The quills always hurt and we do not always learn.

I often wonder why it takes so long to figure it out.


July 10, 2014

Georgia, the Hermitage Saint Bernard puppy, and Rosie, the Hermitage mother goat, have been trying to engage each other in play. However, dogs signal a desire to play by going down on their front paws and barking, however, goats use all four hoofs to skip forward simultaneously and put their head down to butt in play. Neither of them could understand the different signals for play. Rosie butt Georgia to play one day and Georgia was insulted.


Yesterday, suddenly, Georgia skipped forward with all four paws like a goat, following Rosie’s example.


In a moment of recognition, I realized that most of us have lost this gift of insight that leads to adaptability. So we miss the chance to engage others in play, or worse, miss the opportunity for honest communication.


The lessons learned by watching Georgia and Rosie aid in my recovery of full, open, expression.



July 3, 2014



I kneel with reverence at the peony bed looking at the sensual flowers, white, yellow, pink, and magenta. The size of these outrageous blooms are as big as my St. Bernard’s head “Hank,” who is in the picture. Drawn in, I look for a long time into the flowers where one short instant equals a whole year of anticipation. This “fancy dress” version of the buttercup family, has blooms of honeyed heaviness and lush trembling. Their eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment before they are nothing jolts my consciousness to be present.


Perhaps this haiku says it best.


I’ll make it my bed


In the next world-this peony-peony blossoms


that’s what I’ll sleep on in paradise. (issa. D.1823)



June 26, 2014



This is Georgia in her “filet of puppy” pose!

At a time in life when joint and muscle pains abound, this dexterous puppy’s body is a marvel to behold.

She makes me smile!

We were all as nimble as Georgia once. For many of us, we are at another part of the process of life. I truly enjoy being in the presence of her youth. It fills my day with joy to vicariously bask in the wonder of her new life. God’s gifts are expressed differently at various times in the course of our lives. I remember my mother saying as she aged, that it should be our goal to maintain grace and dignity at every new cycle of life. It is clearly true that each stage has its own rewards and struggles. We are called by our creator, who has blessed us with this time, to live life fully and deliberately at all times and under all circumstances.  Georgia is a delightful reminder.



June 19, 2014




With the dawn of the summer solstice, I have my first appointment for 2015. It was a shock when I realized the year was half over. I strive to be fully in the “now” but the accumulative effect of all those “news” presents a perspective of patterns, seasons, and history. The story of life at the Hermitage farm reminds me of the movie “Babe” with all the interaction with animals and them with each other and our combined awareness of the effervescence of nature. It is a life style with few words and much communication by means of touch. Life here has been a lesson in new ways to express myself and to listen. In the past, chatter was the order of the day. Now it is smell and hug.

In celebration of this wonderful summer solstice, I send hugs directly to your heart.



June 12, 2014



The bows of the wild green apple trees are burdened by clusters of fragrant apple blossoms. The tomato plants and green beans and squash are all in flower. “Georgia” the Saint Bernard puppy, has grown a third longer in just three weeks. The winter hay is growing tall up in Canada and will be ready for delivery the first of July. The middle of 2014 will peak in a little more than a week. “The world stands out on either side, no wider than the heart is wide; above the world is stretched the sky, no higher than the soul is high” (Edna Vincent Millay) Pentecost is past and we are left to celebrate and enjoy the abundance of life.




June 5, 2014



Looking at this picture, it is hard to believe that when the puppy Georgia arrived two weeks ago, the Hermitage Saint Bernard “Hank” ran and hid from her attentions and snarled at her for days. But Georgia persisted with love and kisses and bore the brunt of his fear of a new dog. Hank is nine years old and it is true that “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks” or relationship or anything that threatens to change his world. We all fear new folks in our space, or the presence of a new relationship nipping at our face. It seems the older we get, the less we entertain tolerance in our imagined circle. This refusal comes at a high cost.


Today, thanks to abundant love and perseverance on the part of a tiny puppy, the transition of Hank has provided a new friend with whom to sleep and run and play and hang out with. This lesson on the giant moving power of love on one side and tolerance moving from transition to acceptance on the other, seems like the miracle I had hoped for after Stella died. Now to monitor this method of making relationships work by means of “tolerance in the midst of a loving transition” is my resolve.



May 29, 2014




I am pleased to present the newest girl at the Hermitage, a nine week old Saint Bernard named “Georgia”. With true “beginners mind”, Georgia encounters everything in life for the first time with no preconceived limits. No expert in anything, Georgia is free to help all of us recover our original mind, uncluttered by judgment. Georgia perceives the world as positive and full of possibilities. Georgia’s encounter with an ant, a goat, or an old hermit is full of vitality, openness, and boundless imagination.

I was sitting with Georgia in the green grass of spring, suddenly an enormous brown rabbit raised it’s head sporting huge ears. The great brown bunny was not twenty feet from us. Georgia and I were dazzled by the rabbit’s proximity. Georgia’s first encounter with a rabbit propelled her to her feet to run and greet the rabbit. Without caution or fear or any judgment, Georgia wanted to lavish the big brown rabbit with puppy kisses. Her spontaneity gave me permission to recover my spontaneity in life.

It’s Georgia on my mind!


May 22, 2014



In the middle of the night, when no one was looking, a burst of shimmering mint suddenly unfolded in the shape of unfolding umbrellas atop all the deciduous trees in the forest. What a marvel that such an enchanting event should take place in the dark, in solitude, in silence.


I was privileged to observe this event from the window of Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge some thirty five years ago while keeping watch with a dear friend dying of brain cancer. We both thought we had happened upon something we were not to see and felt elated.


Now so many years later, I was sitting at my window in the northern woods of Maine and caught this splendid event once again.


Once again it was on the occasion of a dear loved one dying. Once again it showed me that in spite of all, life was tumbling forward, unstoppable, determined, enfolding me in its new leaves. It’s new life.


Georgia on my mind.



May 15, 2014




In just two short weeks, the familiar pussy willows depicted in the former reflection, have matured and burst forth into full realized blooms with yellow pollen dots on each thread. Thus the circle of life continues forward.

The horror of the death of our Saint Bernard “Stella”, though devastating, is slowly fitting in with the procession of life. Our male Saint “Hank” takes the lead in purposeful meandering on the forest paths that “Stella” enjoyed so much. Sometimes deep in the forest, I tremble with the feeling of being left behind by so many over all these years. My Mother, in a response to the query why we did not go often to visit the cemetery, would remind me that “life was for the living” but in my youth that did not resonate with much meaning to me.  Now in later years, her comment serves to propel me forward in anticipation of the fully realized meaning of life.



May 8, 2014


They take the crumbs from the toaster tray in the night and carry them to a kitchen drawer for future meals. At 3:00AM, when my Saint “Hank” likes to go out and do his thing, I catch the little field mouse running across the floor and disappear into an invisible crack in the wall.

I cannot bear to put them out in winter, so in the spring I set a plastic box in the kitchen drawers and the pantry containing a Wasa cracker covered in peanut butter. The box has a door that only opens in so the mouse needs to wait to be released outside in the morning.

After a few weeks the mice have learned to get the cracker without being trapped in the plastic box.  Clearly they are more clever than I.

I know mice have germs and such. I know I must do something to get them to live in the barn. Many readers would say just kill them. But my Buddhist leanings could not endure such brutality.



May 1, 2014



The “Pussy Willows” are in bloom here at the Hermitage. It is first sign of spring, after what the fire-wood man said today, “Was the most brutal winter he has experienced in thirty years”. Everyone is getting wood for next winter early because they fear we might have a back to back difficult winter. Apparently a number of people ran out of wood by February. The weeks of ice made it impossible to get a delivery.

I have planted several hundred vegetable seeds indoors to be planted outside on June first, the supposedly last possible frost day. The plants will be big by then and well on their way.

The progression of the seasons is marvelous to experience and each season seems a first time experience, like beginners mind, The Zen of nature, ever changing, always the same, is always in the eternal now.



April 17 - April 23,  2014



Stella Maris

April 9, 2003 – April 17, 2014 (Holy Thursday)

Stella Maris – “Star of the Sea” the guiding light of the Hermitage



April 17 - April 23,  2014


At 5:30 on the morning of April 16nd, I was walking across the yard to feed the horses in the barn.  Immediately I became aware of hundreds of “tree swallows” frantically feeding in the garden which was still filled with snow and on the barren roadway that I had sprinkled with corn for the wild turkeys.  These swallows are of a different species from the famous swallows of Capistrano in California who return each year on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19th.  The tree swallows that return here arrive in April and stop to feed on their way north. It was a joyful day of watching the birds eat but by 6:30 P.M they had flown away as a group to continue their journey. Early that evening I heard the loud honks of the returning Canadian geese.

I came to realize that we all live in and share unexpected parallel universes. It was a thrill to be alone in the forest with my fellow beings and to be so very conscious of their lives around me.




April 3,  2014


Every six days I climb the stairs to the hay loft and swing down over the ledge six bales of hay, one for each day. Standing at the edge while moving the bales of hay always seemed a bit precipitous and reminded me of standing too close to the ledge in the subway station.  Sure enough, I fell out of the hay loft! Fortunately I landed on a pile of plastic planting pots which broke the fall.  This is a new definition of “a toss in the hay” There was just a little hay on the stairs and my foot got caught. Things can go wrong very fast and unexpectedly.  The next morning, I was a little sore but that was the extent of it.

The uncertainty of life is very real. Circumstances can and do change in an instant. The best we can do is use care and be focused on the task at hand.

Certainty suggests a firm, settled belief. “I will not fall from the hay loft.” However, prudence is a higher virtue in most cases, and I suspect disciplined focus is essential at all times. Once again it comes down to “being in the moment” or as Thoreau puts it, “living deliberately”.

Simply asking God to protect us from peril is not enough. We are required to cooperate with God’s grace.

The way forward is always hand in hand.




March 20,  2014


Around March 21st is the official beginning of spring. The Anglo-Saxons called March “Hlyd Monath” which means stormy month or “Hraed Monath” which means rugged month. For most of the country these names for spring seem inappropriate, but here in Northern Maine “stormy” and “rugged” seem more than accurate to describe the environment. However, the darkness of winter is waning and the sun is higher in the sky each day. The turkeys are making their nests for eggs and all the farm animals are shedding their heavy winter coats. Though the temperatures are in the single digits at night and great mounds of snow encircle paths and roads buried in inches of ice, the slow march of Lent to the glory of Easter is blessed assurance that a new heaven and earth awaits us.



March 14,  2014


The stainless steel goat bowl filled with carrot strips, apple cores, and champagne grapes was pushed by the howling wind across the drive. Nothing spilled! I had put it down at 5:30AM while I tried to push open the barn door frozen shut by yet another late winter ice storm. Here in mid-march this storm is as intense as the Dec. 21st storm, except this time we have not lost power yet. The squirrels are snug in the abandoned wood stove outside the barn. Only yesterday it was 40 degrees and six red tailed squirrels were scampering below the feeder filled with bird seed.  Only the turkeys are out in the sleet this morning pecking at corn and oats left out for them. In a month it will be mid-April, Elliot’s; “cruelest month”, but I am sure by then the dandelions will be up. In the midst of this terrific late blizzard there is a silver lining, new life is about to spring forth. Lent has a way of carrying us through this transition. The reality of nature may seem daunting, but resurrection to new life is assured.



March 6,  2014


The word Lent comes from Middle English,” Lenten” which evolved into Old English with the word “lengthen”. At that time the word meant to shine as in the days getting longer as spring approached. For Catholics the word Lent came to mean the forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter as a time of preparation and fasting before the Easter celebration. This period of transition is rather dramatic in the north woods of Maine. Ash Wednesday is a time of freezing temperatures and almost daily snow. Slowly as Lent progresses, the snow melts, the crocus flowers bloom and the buds on the trees become more apparent. The net experience here for me is joy and a profound gratitude for surviving the winter season. In Southern California the drama of transition is more difficult to observe, but if you are attentive the experience is the same, just more subtle.

Forty days may seem a long time. St Peter in his second letter says: (Chapter 3:8) But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

(2 Peter 3:13-14) Meanwhile we wait for a new heaven and a new earth….therefore be found at peace.”



February 27,  2014


Over these past odd seventy years, the observance of Lent has changed in many ways. Before 1965, Lent was a season of negative connotations with strict rules for fasting and a somber Liturgy. It seemed that almost every day in Lent was a fast day or an ember day.

Since the Second Vatican Council, the very prayer recited on Ash Wednesday as the ashes are applied to the forehead have changed from “Remember man that thou art dust” to “Repent and believe”. Today the biblical readings progress to a more hopeful and optimistic attitude that clearly points to the Joyful celebration of Easter, Resurrection, and the dawn of new and vibrant life.

It is less than two weeks to Ash Wednesday. Downeast Maine is frozen in ice and snow. However it is time to plant the seedlings indoors to be ready for the soil garden in three months. The anticipation as I watch the seedling grow bigger each day of Lent helps me focus on the restoration of the life of the earth and the resuscitation of the lilacs and peony plants that have already formed their buds.

If as Spinoza said; “Nature is God’s clothing”, then the fashion show this winter has been spectacular.



February 13,  2014


The temperature was seven degrees, it was early Sunday morning, and the battery of the truck died somewhere between Whiting and Machias, Maine. I had no phone and had to hike to the only gas station to get a tow truck to charge the battery. The cold and wind as I walked was intolerable. At last the garage and a ride in the tow truck. He charged the battery and said do not shut the truck off because it will not start again. Then a half mile down the road some branches had fallen over the road and it was another four hours for it to be cleared. I was afraid to put the heat on in the truck because of the very weak battery. When I arrived at the Hermitage my nerves were shot. The event was one of those “broken shoe string” moments when all emotions spill over. Frozen to the bone, I fell in bed and was comforted by the Saint Bernard’s.

Upon reflection, I realize that life is full of these “broken shoe lace” moments which tip the scale of self-control and lead to panic. They happen on a farm, on the 405 in So. Cal, or just about anywhere when the bucket of adverse emotions is about to tip.

Developing the emotional tools to cope is a long journey in life, especially when small “broken shoe strings” hook into other more serious past terrible events.

Recognizing the hooking up of my mind to “broken shoe laces” and failed Algebra exams, and teenage shame, helps give a perspective to the monopoly game of the mind. To be able to sort out events and assign reasonable relationship is a long way to resolution.



February 6,  2014

My Uncle Bob (R.I.P.) died at 54 years old. He was my mentor and taught me to plan ahead in five year segments. I realize that for some people five months out is all they can handle, and for still many others moment by moment, crisis by crisis is burdensome enough.

On May 15th, three pounds of worker bees along with a queen will arrive from Georgia. After four years, I have learnt that the orders for bees must be made in the first weeks of January. The ability to plan ahead is an essential discipline on a farm. Your mind needs to plan several season ahead. At once trying to live in the now and at the same time make plans for the future, requires spiritual discipline as well as practical consciousness. To just collapse into worry or inertia is a failed option.

The balance between capturing the now and providing for the future is a tension that provides insight into the great Divine plan for life lived fully.


January 23, 2014



Of the twelve wild “Maine” turkeys in residence on the Hermitage property, it now appears that only eight survived the New Year “Polar Vortex”. I put corn out for the turkeys each day. It seems obvious now that a week of minus thirty one degree temperatures was too much for some to endure.

Life is lavish by design, brutal in its demands, and indifferent to the outcome.

Coming to terms with this reality leads me to believe that for some of life’s questions, there is just no adequate answer. I remember that Thomas Merton wrote while living as a hermit, that the American obsession with “talk therapy” suggests that people are unwilling to embrace the idea of “no adequate answer”.

Perhaps resting in a neutral zone is a first step to Wisdom.



January 16, 2014



By the feast of the Epiphany, Jan 6th, Downeast Maine was covered with two feet of snow and two inches of ice. Everything came to a halt. It was the worst ice storms in twenty years. Electric power was intermittent at best and no roads were safe. The Hermitage had been on lock down since before Christmas and the propane tanks were almost empty with no possible chance of delivery.

On the Epiphany a warm rain storm came in and it rained for days, slowly melting the thick ice. Was it an answer to prayers? Was it a miracle? It was certainly a major shift in the weather pattern.

In the midst of it all, my computer died forever and it has taken me till now to get and learn how to use a new computer.

With January half over things are getting back to normal. The January thaw is predicted to end this Monday, the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King. With Dr. King’s powerful positive vision, we will be prepared for the beginning of the second half of winter. Then will come the first sign of spring.

The miracle of the grand January thaw will be written in the History of 2014 and for the minds and hearts of Maine people an abiding sense of gratitude for a Divine intervention.



New Year, 2014


2013 ended with a colossal snow storm followed immediately by an ice storm. The Hermitage was cut off from the world from the 3rd Sunday of Advent until New Years Eve.

It has been a retreat from all of civilization with its frenetic rush and a unique opportunity to rest in the silence and solitude of this magnificent natural world.

I have been thinking of your loving kindness and your grand generosity showered this Holy Season on me and the Hermitage. Please know of my deep gratitude and promise of continued prayers.


copyright © 2018 Stella Maris Hermitage
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