Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.
Patrick Leigh Fermor wrote two classic memoirs -- A TIME OF GIFTS and BETWEEN THE WOODS AND THE WATER. During WWII he fought with local partisans against the Nazi occupiers of Crete. And then, he began his sojourns to some of Europe's oldest and most venerable monasteries. He stayed for extended periods at the Abbey of St. Wadrille, at Solemes and La Grande Trappe. He then visited the rock monasteries of Cappadocia -- home of the earliest Christian anchorites.
This short book is a meditation on the meaning and benefits of silence and solitude, and it's beautifully written. To read it is to enter into the state of meditation. It invites contemplation, encourages appreciation of simplicity and moment-to-moment awareness. Consider this passage: "In the seclusion of a cell -- an existence whose quietness is only varied by the silent meals, the solemnity of ritual, and long solitary walks in the woods - the troubled waters of the mind grow still and clear, and much that is hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the surface and can be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a state of peace that is unthought of in the ordinary world."