Silence: Silence was the expectation in the guesthouse kitchen and dining room (where we got our own breakfast), in the public rooms and garden, and in the refectory where we ate our noon and evening meals with the brothers.
During those community meals there was no conversation, but, it was not silent. In keeping with the monastic tradition, one of the brothers read aloud. The choice was not some theological treaties of old, but a sociological study of current interest: Better Boys, Better Men, The New Masculinity that Creates Greater Courage and Emotional Resilency, by Andrew Reiner (2021). (This reading choice clearly exemplifies the mission of this community of Episcopal monks “to critically engage with contemporary culture.”)
Solitude: my own room, my own cell with a bed, desk, easy chair, and sink. I could have been in comfortable solitude there all day. The public rooms were empty except for breakfast in the morning. I was usually the only one in the large garden. The chapel was empty except for times of service.
Simplicity: consistency was the highlight of simplicity. I participated in the daily office with the monks; morning prayer at 6; Eucharist at 8; noonday prayer at 12:30; evening prayer at 6; and compline at 8:30. The order of scripture readings is complex, but it was enough to close my eyes and listen.
I kept the rest of my schedule simple: walks along the Charles, a trip to the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, a visit to the Fogg Museum. Simplicity was up to me. Simplicity is up to me going forward.
(To honor privacy, I didn't take pictures in side the monastery.)