Monasteries of the Heart

Profile: Patricia, leader of Heartlinks Monastery

1. What would you say was the key reason that lead you to offer an online monastery?
I felt committing to leading a group would help me be more consistent with my own spiritual practices and that the exchange with others would take me to a deeper level of spiritual growth. I have experienced both! I loved the idea of being part of a new and creative way of exploring spiritual issues that was ecumenical and free to focus on God without hierarchical trappings.

2. What has been the biggest surprise in the experience for you?
The biggest surprise has been the beautiful bonding between our monastery members. I wasn't completely sure that would be possible with an on-line community, but it certainly has and it is wonderful!

3. How far-flung is your monastery geographically?
We are scattered coast-to-coast in 7 of the United States, and we have one member in Hungary and another in Korea, who both add a wonderful perspective and international experience.

4. What would you say is the biggest gift of an online monastery?

The biggest gifts are the fellow travelers and the diversity of beliefs and experiences. I've always longed for opportunities to discuss matters of spiritual concern more in depth and with more frequency. In today's world many folks shy away from, or have no interest in, such discussions. I grow tired of "surface conversations" that don't touch the most important issues of life–our reason for being. I know of no better way to continue to grow spiritually than to share spiritual concerns, ideas, traditions, joys and sorrows, with other dedicated believers who also long for a deeper connection with God.

5. What is the biggest challenge?
It is challenging that a few members don't post very often. It is difficult to get to know them and understand how to be in relationship with them, when they so seldom share their experiences and beliefs with the group. They are few, but they nevertheless have a significant impact on the community.

6. What would you say is unique about your monastery?
We have a very loving and creative group, who deeply and sincerely care for one another. There is a strong desire to go as deep as possible with this on-line community. I can "feel the love" of these holy women as they warmly, and often humorously, express their love of God and caring for one another. We would love to meet in person (a couple of us have had that wonderful opportunity) and are currently planning to schedule a Skype session to enhance our Heartlinks bond. It is my joy to be a part of this sacred community!

7. What would you suggest that others reflect on as they consider leading an online monastery?
As a leader, you will be called upon to invest more time than you may have anticipated if you want to take your group deeper. Be prepared to do so. Also, you may have to deal with a few "behind the scenes" issues. Trust the MOH staff to guide you and draw on their wisdom and experience. Finally, it is a wonderful opportunity for personal growth and getting to know yourself better. Don't pass it up!

8. What question do you wish we had asked?
I wish you had asked how I felt about the Erie Benedictines. How would you answer it? I think they are a talented, creative, AWESOME group of courageous visionaries and dedicated women. I congratulate them on this much needed and ever so practical endeavor and I am most grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to be a part of MOH!

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