Orchards of Perseverance: Conversations With Trappist Monks About God, Their Lives and the World (St. Therese's Press, 2000)

I purchased this book at Vina Monastery, a place where I often go to meditate, pray and write. The monastery’s book store draws me like a magnet. This book is an excellent “inside” view of the personal side of the monks’ journey. Orchards of Perseverance contains part and parcel of the origin of the Vina Monastery.  Nine monks share first-person accounts of their own stories. Perata records each one’s monologue as if they are talking to us. The stories often focus on how and when God started calling them toward their vocation, then the struggles and the joys of living as a monk, and the rigorous but gentle way their lives are directed by God and those who lead them. I found it fascinating in many respects. First off, I realized that I had some of it wrong. Some of my assumptions about monastic living were incorrect. It’s not so much about “duty” (my assumption) as it is about seeking God and embracing His presence. One of the beauties of living as a monk is the opportunity to grow in a centered relationship with Christ. However, even though there is less distraction than on the outside, there is more awareness of self and self’s problems. The journey is as much about facing one’s own self as it relates to one’s need for God in a very  difficult but beautiful way. This book is also some about the author. As a boy, he spent time with a friend at the monastery. Throughout his life he has participated in visiting the monastery on many occasions. His love for the place and for the brothers is apparent. Orchards of Perseverance is an interesting read for anyone who enjoys monasticism and asceticism. The book opens with helpful information concerning Cistercian Trappists’ roots. I enjoyed this book.