What is in a grain of sand?

By Prior Daniel Manger,o.s.b.,cam.

The astounding photographs of the Webb Telescope released by NASA are of historic technological achievement.  The collective contributions of many both in scientific study, engineering, time and money display once again, what collective abilities women and men can conceive and achieve to advance our understanding of the universe we share and that of our own value of good to one another for an expansion of knowledge in context of our own societal conflicts. Another, an most important knowledge, is the acknowledgement of the order of the universe in the diversity displayed, that reveals the God who has created it for us to live in wonder and gratitude for our life with one another, on the grain of sand we call our home planet Earth. I was looking at a grain of sand and pondering what a scientist spoke of about the photographs taken by the Webb Telescope. That it is like holding one grain of sand at arm’s length from you and therein that microscopic grain encloses what the telescope discovered!

Immediately, I recalled God’s speaking to our father in faith, Abraham in (Genesis 22: 16-17), when God used the stars and grains of sand as a comparison for Abraham and the immensity of God’s fidelity to his promise within the integrity of each human person. The astounding gift of being an intelligent life form and endowed with spirit in the image of such a creative and life giving God within each generation is!

NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; Hubble Spots a Merging Galactic Gem

The church has pondered and continues to do so, this mystery in the Incarnation of Jesus the Christ and the consequences of our faith in stewardship of the great gift of this bountiful universe of which we all are apart. More than this as Pseudo-Macarius states in his 49th Homily back in the 3rd century, “God built heaven and earth to be the dwelling place of the human race. But hey also built the human body and soul to make them his own abode, so that he might dwell therein and rest there as in a well-kept house. . . ‘We are his house’ (Hebrews 3:6).  When one ponders the various conflicts at large in our world that are in truth, on the little grain of sand we call our home, in the vastness of universe and how precious it is, why do we continue to destroy ourselves for greed, propping it up deceit, without a care? The lack of the Self’s true understanding based upon God and holiness within the human species created in the image of God, as revealed in his Word to us in Jesus, as never before calls to us to awaken from the enchantment of evil in all its guises against life. If we as a species demonstrate such collective creative technology as we are witnessing, why not apply the same desire for knowledge to reverence the divine presence with in life itself, which is sheer gift to each of us? Next time you go into to a garden, a sea shore or even looking at sandbag full of sand, imagine your self on the surface of just one of those bits of sand with all of us and give thanks for life in all its diversity and whisper a prayer to God, that you pledge with the time given to respect life with others and protect it for others. Then perhaps, the words of Pseudo-Macarius will give encouragement and hope in our time of need.


SOPHIA SEEKING. By Prior Daniel Manger O.S.B.,Cam.

Consider for a moment the awakening of yourself to the presence of Sophia (Divine Wisdom). A daily acknowledgement within our spirited engagement of reality within the mundane elements of our lives requires a desire to take measures both of time as gift and the meter of silence that we make allowance for amidst the dine of the postmodern cybernetic atmosphere we westerners are preoccupied with.

Sophia was revealed in the Book of Wisdom in the Old Testament as one who seeks out those who desire her. The purpose is to create within our understanding the ‘friendship with God’. Our desire is one that emerges for instruction in love of her presence and availability to ‘heed her law for the final purpose of immortality as a result of friendship with the living God. To honor Sophia is to acknowledge her seeking to hide no secrets from you but rather to reveal the traces of her creative process within and at labor to bring forward an eternal birthing of knowledge of truth devoid of envy or possessive self-centered individualism. Sophia accompanies within the companions who are friends with God in association with her guidance the stability of love, as a privilege to share amidst the deserts of the hearts of our fellow human beings, that have no knowledge of Sophia’s desire.

Sophia does not incarnate her presence with the clever, or the intelligent in their own pragmatic self-estimation. Sophia associates herself with the lowly, emptying herself in spaciousness of heart, aware of the deepest hunger for the source living bread, a manna that as the Catholic and Orthodox liturgies recall in their Eucharistic prayers, “fruit of the vine and the work of human hands’.  The elements that need a completion, a sculpting labor of Sophia’s spirit to render bread for eternal living, to be shared in this living way on this planet, in this universe and will transfigure us into the company of saints, as friends of God we are becoming.

The Book of Wisdom instruct us in chapter 7  that ‘without guile or grudging’ one must not hide her wealth for others. This Saint Romuald embodied in his sojourn, as in the 1000 years of many monks and nuns and oblates have and continue to do. They along with Saint Romuald discovered the ‘unfailing treasure’ of Sophia’s presence and her stewarding of them, in teaching them the way to perennially consider their own calling to be friend and befriend others in the ‘privilege of love’.

All of natural word in its manifold presences around us , galaxies, lightening bugs, plants, rivers and oceans, birds and butterflies, sense the great gift of life as together they form a symphony of self donation to one another, in a reciprocity of common life. Why is it that our intelligence often ignores and disrupts and diminishes them by exploitation without giving anything back in return, except the legacy of harm and neglect as we render to our own species? The disease is in our heart-spirit obsessed with fear and no knowledge of self entrustment, called faith in the New Testament by Jesus, the incarnation of Sophia. “Consider the Lillies of the field they neither sow nor reap and even Solomon on all is glory was not arrayed as one of these.”

Life begets life not exclusively but diaphanously , the vestigia Dei, the fingerprint of God upon all things.  The great contemplative spirit that arrived among us in Saint Romuald and has never departed from us because Sophia seeks still to awaken within each of us the adventure of her wisdom revealing new passages and horizons of hope and life, if we pray for awakened desire for her, making space for the silence within.

Camaldolese Benedictine Monastery

San Luis Obispo, CA


We are a community of Camaldolese Benedictine monks who live in community together and pray along with visiting guests, oblates and friends.

The life a Camaldolese Benedictine monk centers on the seeking of Jesus Christ through the ancient, but ever new, monastic heritage of Saint Benedict, as enriched by Saint Romuald.

This life radiates outward in various rhythms, involving him in solitude and community, silence and fraternal encounter, prayer and work, study and recreation.

He is dedicated to the love and praise of God in the bond of fraternal charity.

  We welcome guests.

You are invited to visit, to join us for communal prayer, to spend time in private, silent prayer in the chapel, to meditate while walking or sitting on the grounds, for spiritual direction, to join us as a group for a facilitated retreat, to stay as a guest for a personal, private retreat or to take a virtual retreat.

  To make a RESERVATION to stay as a guest.

  To visit our online store to SHOP for books and gifts. Or visit us in person on Sundays between 12:00PM and 2PM

For INFORMATION, PRAYER REQUESTS, TO BOOK THE FACILITY FOR YOUR GROUP or to schedule an appointment for SPIRITUAL DIRECTION or to explore booking a (remote or in person) PREACHED CONFERENCE uniquely tailored  to your group, please call 805-544-1810.