Thoughts inspired by a visit to a Cistercian Abbey.

One of the awful torments of modern life—indeed, it is one from whose aggressions no one is entirely safe—is noise. More and more, it fills the space that was once marked by that silence whose absence we seem increasingly not to notice.

Where does one go to escape the din? And if such places exist, how long can you stay? I found out last January when, invited by a Cistercian Abbey in Utah to give a retreat, I spent an entire week in the midst of silence. It was glorious.

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