About Us

Some people like intellectual puzzles, some like to meditate on things spiritual, some like to share thoughtful conversations, some good food and wine. We love all these, and also meeting others who love the same.

We are seekers, world travelers, teachers and learners. From the Benedictine  tradition we learned that the passion for learning and the desire for God are part of the same journey. And that a monastic life style isn't only for monasteries but can be lived in the day to day life outside the monastery, too. 

 

OUR MISSION

The Love of Learning and the Desire for God
— Jean LeClercq's summary of Benedictine monastic culture

OUR VISION

...To create a breathing space

  • where we cultivate, deepen and share our interest in monastic traditions and teachings across ages and continents
  • where we facilitate the dialogue between mind and heart
  • where we explore together how the lessons from the monastery can sustain and replenish our soul's journey.

We would be honored to welcome you on this journey!

Almut & Chuck

 

WHAT OTHERS SAY

About Almut

Almut Furchert, Ph.D. holds graduate degrees in philosophy of religion (Dr. phil.), psychology (Dipl. Psych.) and adult education from German universities and has worked in private practice in Germany for many years. She is an expert on existential thought traditions (e.g. Kierkegaard, Buber, Jaspers, Frankl) and has in the last years immersed herself in the studies of Hildegard of Bingen, teaching her as one of the fore-mothers of integrated healing science and practice to audiences ranging from nursing students to senior learners. She brings a deep appreciation for the classic texts of psychological and philosophical theory, especially those that reflect on what it means to be human. 

 

I have grown up as third of five siblings in a pastor's home in a little East German village behind the Berlin Wall. So the urge to understand human struggle and facilitate healing has been with me for a long time. I also cherish freedom of thought -- philosophia (the love for wisdom) is after all a personal matter, it must help us to live our life well and to grow towards deeper understanding and wisdom. I enjoy traveling and photography and most of the photos on this site are mine. I love thoughtful conversation and reflection, but also laughter and leisure. I need lots of the latter...

Lately I became an Oblate candidate at Saint Benedict's Monastery in MN. As Benedictine Oblates we commit ourselves to live our lives in a Benedictine way, not in a monastery, but in our day-to-day lives at home.   Still, an oblate chooses a monastery as a spiritual home-base to which one can regularly retreat. As a global citizen often torn between continents, languages and cultures, finding this spiritual home has been a great gift to me.

I am looking forward to share some of this journey with you here.

Life must be understood backwards but lived forward...
— Søren Kierkegaard

About Chuck

Chuck Huff, Ph.D. is a professor of social psychology at Saint Olaf College, MN, with extensive study in philosophy and religion. He loves to collect and draw pictures of data, to read the latest empirical research, and to connect it with themes of what it means to be human. He is an expert in the field of moral psychology and is especially interested in what makes people take (im)moral action. Chuck has been a Benedictine Oblate at Saint John's Abbey, MN for more than 20 years. 

 

I am a son of the deep south in the USA, unaccountably married to a soul-mate from Germany.   My religious background is best characterized as eclectic (if not downright discombobulated).  I have at various times been Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, and Presbyterian.  In college, I was lured away from fundamentalism by reading C. S. Lewis, and in seminary, emancipated by studying Tillich.  Though it sounds very cerebral, it really was all about how I should live my life.  When I discovered Benedictine monasticism, I believe I found the way that fits with my peculiar makeup.  As I have experienced it, Benedictine spirituality is not about right belief, but right practice.  When people ask what "kind" of Christian I am, I now call myself a Benedictine.

For much of my life I have been longing to know God.  And for much of my psychological career (30 years teaching so far), I have been fascinated by how and why people are moral.  I now see these two things coming together as I read about the spirituality of the ancient monastic fathers and mothers in the deserts of Egypt (and Palestine, Syria, and Turkey).  It is to these "abbas and ammas" that Benedict  looked as he wrote his rule.  Now I can see the love of learning and the desire for God coming together in my life as I learn about the ways of these ancient monastics (and their more modern descendants and relatives) and incorporate their wisdom into my personal searching.  As I write here at cloisterseminars.org and do workshops and retreats, I invite you along on this journey.  There is much we can learn from each other.

 

We both...

are committed to an open minded search for a lived truth, and have found in the Benedictine monastic tradition our spiritual home. We cherish opportunities to introduce this tradition as a way of life that all people with a love of learning and a desire for God can adopt. So we try to convey the simplicity and complexity of the spiritual life in our teaching and writings, in workshops and retreats at monasteries and invited venues, and here online - with you. 

We currently live in Minnesota, USA, where it gets far too cold in Winter (for a Floridian and a German) and where Spring is always welcome ...

 

 
 A & C in Copenhagen. The melancholy Dane Søren Kierkegaard is to blame that we met... And yes, we got married in Danemark!

A & C in Copenhagen. The melancholy Dane Søren Kierkegaard is to blame that we met... And yes, we got married in Danemark!

How did it all start?

Merging a European Scholar and
an American Scientist,
add a rough cut kitchen table,
existential puzzles,
cheese and wine, and love...