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SEEKING SURRENDER; HOW MY FRIENDSHIP WITHA TRAPPIST MONKS TAUGHT ME TO TRUST AND EMBRACE LIFE – COLETTE LAFIA

‘A beautiful and honest book,’ says Richard Rohr on the cover page of this book, and he is right to say so.  It is a record of a friendship between the author and Brother René, a monk of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, a monastery made famous by an earlier monk by the name of Thomas Merton.   The author includes letters exchanged between herself and the elderly Brother René, together with her own reflections on her life and spiritual path.  Infertility, cancer, insomnia and business challenges had been the background to her daily struggle with loss and grief.  Through visits and times of retreat, and the ongoing relationship of spiritual direction with Brother René, Lafia manages to find not a solution to her problems but a way forward through her distress.  She describes this as an ever-deepening ‘living surrender’: not a capitulation but an acceptance of the situation in which she finds herself, while still looking for how God is with her and beckoning her forward in her pain. Gradually she is able to come to a sense of greater resolution, and herself embarks on a course of training in spiritual direction, evidence of which is seen in the text boxes directly addressed to the reader that intersperse the book.  As a relatively short book this is not the last word on spiritual discernment, but is a deeply felt and encouraging essay into a monastic wisdom for everyday life.

 

Nicholas Alan SSF