Sixty Miles to Quiet


A sense of deep peace envelopes your entire being as you come into the green fields surrounding a small cluster of buildings at the heart of the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia, 60 miles away from Washington DC.

Once you park and leave your car behind, a startling realization dawns on you: it is quiet here. The quiet has a depth and quality very unfamiliar to most of us, modern individuals who spend our days in loud cities and amongst equally deafening inner noise of non-stop information streams we open ourselves up to as we cling to our electronics. 

Here, in the fields and in the abbey, it’s a different world, different time, different existence. You will feel this different-ness keenly whether you visit for a few short hours or stay for a weekend-long silent retreat.


The monastery is of the Cistercian Order, following the Rule of St. Benedict, but its gates are open for human beings of all faiths and of no faith at all. People come here seeking a respite from the overwhelming waves of busyness of their daily lives and from the great noise, our persistent companion. A statement on the abbey’s page says that “in solitude and silence they [the monks] aspire to that interior quiet in which wisdom is born,” and it’s this astonishing dual gift of solitude and silence that our modern hearts are yearning for.

An idea of a silent retreat might sound utterly foreign to many of us, and yet this might be the soul-feeding, calming and centering experience that we need the most. 

If you enjoyed reading this piece, you might also want to read “Catching Myself“, “Waiting for a Train“ and “Little Blessings” series. You will find more essays on my homepage, MariaFafardWrites


Hello, my name is Maria Fafard and I am grateful to meet you. I read old books, travel to thin places, think about meaning of life and write about all of these things. I care about people, ideas, and books, believe in power of liberal arts, try to nurture creativity in others and myself, and strive to live a meaningful life. I believe that travel in the physical world is often a symbol for seeking in the realm of mind and spirit, and that wherever we are, countless gifts of joy and wonder are offered to us every day – but we have to be present enough to look up and accept them.

If you have enjoyed reading my blog posts, you can follow me here on WordPress (by clicking on the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of this screen, inputting your email into the window and clicking on the ‘Sign Me Up’ button) and on Twitter (@mariafafard). Thank you and I am looking forward to talking with you.

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