Withdrawing from society is a tradition of many religions. And in areas around the eastern Mediterranean, a practice developed of withdrawing into the desert alone with limited food and water in an effort to grow in faith by withstanding the devil’s temptations.
The practice gradually evolved into isolated permanent settlements and finally into formal monasteries. In touring great architectural landmarks in Europe and the Middle East I have often visited monasteries. They are often beautiful, and while many of them are active, their original purpose usually seems greatly diminished. They can seem like more a relic of history than a thriving community. One is left to imagine what a life of quiet contemplation must have been like.
Having wondered about that more than once, it was intriguing to hear of an active monastery where you can stay and get a taste of what has been experienced across the centuries by those who have chosen the monastic life. What a great opportunity!