t's a very contemplative lifestyle. It's not an easy life -- you give up the world. We're still in the world but not of the world. There's a lot of self-discipline involved: Other religious are in community, so they'd go to prayer together, while I go to prayer by myself. You have to touch base with someone to make sure you're staying on target and not going off the deep end in the woods by yourself -- a spiritual director, a confessor. I touch base with my pastor occasionally. So you're a loner, although you're not really a lone ranger.
The funny thing is, you don't realize that there are hermits out there until you become one, and then this whole world opens up. You find out that there are hermits everywhere, all over the world. They're not all canonical, they're not all Roman Catholic, but they're out there.
My husband John used to say, "If anything happens to me, Mary's probably going in the convent," so I think some people were expecting it more than I was. But it's still been hard for them. My son and his wife have been very supportive from the very beginning, but they just had a baby, and they live five minutes away. . . It would be so easy if I packed my bag and went to the train station and kissed everybody goodbye, but that didn't happen -- I'm still in the neighborhood. I can see them occasionally, if they come for a visit, but they can't stay for the whole day.
I gave up all of that to pray -- to live in silence and solitude and simplicity. However, I can be in contact with people: I have an e-mail address and I'm in contact with other hermits and with my son. I have a phone, but after my family and friends came to my profession Mass, it stopped ringing. I think then people really understood a lot more.
What a remarkable witness. Read the whole interview.