Monastery For Families

Chris Hoke on his visit to the Platte Clove Bruderhof

Video transcript:

My name is Chris Hoke, and I come from the far northwest of Washington State, north of Seattle. I work with Underground Ministries, a small organization that is in relationship with gang–affected prisoners and their reentry back into the community, helping both those leaving incarceration and those in the faith communities be in relationship with each other and learn a new way of life. That’s what I’ve been experiencing out here for the last three days at the Bruderhof of Platte Clove in upstate New York. I came here because, a few years ago when my first book came out, a member of the community was really kind to write me a letter and sent a bunch of books from Plough Publishing just sharing their way of life up here, blessing our work, and extending an invitation of friendship to come and learn what was going on.

I looked it up online. It looked really cool, but I didn’t think I’d really come to the other side of the country; but their friendship was persistent. Another Christmas went by, and more books came in the mail with friendly notes of blessing and an invitation, “Hey, maybe you want to take a writer’s retreat.” That’s how they got me out here, and why I’ve been in this beautiful environment just off the Hudson River Valley for a few days. What I didn’t expect is to be so moved by a different way of life that I wouldn’t have understood before coming here. I’ve visited a lot of monasteries. For the last few years, I’ve been really interested in monasteries... I started to go to monasteries for my own retreats after the taxing work, working with folks on and off of drugs and in and out of prison. Then I started to see there was an odd familiarity in these all-male institutions, but with a more loving purpose than in a prison, and I started thinking about the parallels between folks leaving prison and being connected with monastic communities.

But while being here, it feels similar to monastery, but so much richer. There are children everywhere and they’re singing all the time, and there are families; and yet they’re living a kind of monastic dedication to a life of Jesus. There’s no pretense. There’s no robes. There’s no high church liturgies, and yet there’s a sense that these folks take the way of Jesus so seriously and they don’t want to be cloistered. They want to share the DNA of this life of living the Sermon on the Mount and sharing their possessions, and offering this as a new model to the world and learning from the world. I’ve just been blown away. I invite anyone who is interested in how the world of a monastic calling can intersect with a beautiful family camp in the woods: this is your spot; come check it out!

Come visit!

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