A small gathering of friends of The Hermitage recently – a most enjoyable evening with far ranging conversations: the history and modern development of the Hermit; the nature of the eremitical life; the Desert Mothers; the history and development of Coptic liturgical headwear; conflict resolution, including family conflicts, consumer disputes and environment conflict; the brilliant artist Florence Broadhurst (1899-1977) and her exotic wallpaper designs (the Refectory is papered in a Broadhurst design); Pope Kyrillos VI; Matta el-Meskeem; traditional Coptic rites for monastic burial; traditional Japanese robes, specifically the yukata (浴衣)(an antique yakata hangs on the Refectory wall); waterborne diseases (notable giardia) and especially their impact on Aboriginal communities; the history of punk music; the tuning of ukeles and guitars; the modern interest in weird occult ideas and why young people are attracted to them.
The traditional silence of The Hermitage was interrupted by some experimental music – possibly the beginning of a new musical group (Cedd’s Hermits?). This included Youssy on the Ethiopian systrum and Coptic cymbals, Marina on the Dungchen (the Tibetan trumpet – producing some wonderfully deep, resonant notes), Fr Edward on ukulele, and Daniel on guitar.
We enjoyed pizza and Youssy’s Swiss rolls (including a plate in memory of the late Griz cat, for whom it was an addictive favourite).
Although Hermits traditionally sought solitude, few of them pursued this is any sort of absolute. They were “found” by those who sought their advice or conversation, as the early Desert Fathers and Mothers attest. So, The Hermitage occasionally welcomes guests, and encourages them to explore Desert Spirituality – and anything else they wish to discuss – in a relaxed and informal style.