Detachment in the Real World—and The Monastery

St. Benedict

St. Benedict

Detachment in the Real World—and The Monastery

Below is part of a newsletter that I receive weekly from a monk at a Monastery in New Mexico. The name of the monastery is, “Christ in the Desert.” I make an annual retreat there every year.

It’s very secluded—at the end of a thirteen mile dirt road. It was built in the 60’s by George Nakashima, famous Japanese-American woodworker and architect. The Monastery is “off the grid” and the adobe construction blends perfectly with the cactus and the high canyon walls that surround it. Cloistered together there are about twenty-five monks and rooms for another ten or so guests.

A visit to this wonderful desert Benedictine Abbey is very peaceful and quiet, to say the least. The Abbot who oversees the monastery writes an email newsletter every week. They have solar power and a satellite hook-up for the internet. The property sits right next to the Chama River, so water is never a problem.

Abbot Philip’s message this week addresses the challenge of dealing with difficult people in our lives—people we cannot trust. Below is a portion of that newsletter. I think his words help us (family members) know how to best deal with someone in our lives who has shown (often over weeks, months and even years) that they cannot be trusted.

So what should we do? Should we detach from the person? And if so—can it be done in a loving and compassionate way? What is the cost we have to be willing to pay to try to maintain this relationship—should we try to do so?  I guess that even among the monks “every day is not a hot fudge sundae.”
~ Joe


The Monastery of Christ inthe Desert

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico

~ Excerpt from Abbot Philip’s newsletter

“. . . In the long-run, whatever we do—presuming that we allow such a person to remain in our lives—is going to require huge amounts of energy from us, so we must be prepared for that, if we choose to continue to relate to the person.

Most people simply cut such persons out of their lives.  And perhaps that is the wisest course of action. Others, like myself, tend to go on and on and on, trying to find a way to trust everyone.  It cannot be done and people like me have to learn the practicality of cutting someone out of one’s life (at least for a time).

God, of course, is not like that. God puts up with all of us, no matter how many times we lie to Him. God loves us and forgives—no matter what—if we just turn to Him and ask. God knows that we can fail over and over and over.

But to think that all of us can live like God is an illusion. We want to live like God. That is not illusion. But we humans fail over and over.

What we can do always, however, is pray for others and especially for anyone whom we cannot trust.  Although we never have to reject anyone, we should gently put on the side anyone whom we cannot trust.”
~ Abbot Philip, Christ Desert Monastery

I would add “at least for a time until trust has been rebuilt. And that does take time. (-;

To learn more about the Monastery and view larger photos

(listen to the Monk’s beautiful chanting)


To read more on the subject of detachment, read Joe’s very popular article “Detachment. How Can I?

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5 thoughts on “Detachment in the Real World—and The Monastery

  1. Pingback: Detachment in the Real World and The Monastery | Changing Lives Foundation Blog

  2. Lisa

    Detachment is one of the most difficult concepts for us family members to grasp. It took me nearly two decades of living through the turbulence of my husband’s drug addiction before I gained the courage to detach. As hard as it was to take those steps — it was only after I stopped enabling him, that he was willing to accept help. This topic is probably the most important one for families to hear. Joe’s article, “Detachment, how can I?”is one of the best articles I’ve read on this subject. Thank you for sharing the pictures of the Monastery — So Beautiful!

  3. Cathy

    Always a challenge for moms to know how or when is the right time to detach with love. When your child is continuing to harm themselves or family members, and are not willing to make positive changes in their life, it is time to think about detachment. Mothers often cling to the hope that something they say or do might make a difference. Over time, with practice, you can detach from your
    child’s problems. When the addicted child realizes that he or she is not going to be rescued, they may begin to change their life.

  4. jherzanek Post author

    This is mostly referring to people who continue to keep someone in their life who takes advantage of them, causes great stress in the relationship and is unwilling to consider positive change. Many people (mostly women) live for years in such unhealthy relationships—feeling helpless and trapped.

  5. Pingback: Changing Lives Foundation Blog · Detachment in the Real World and The Monastery

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