When a monk set off to found a new monastery, he liked to have twelve disciples with him so that the community would be in imitation of Christ and his twelve apostles.
There is an ancient Celtic poem by an unknown author that expresses this and many other aspects of that early vision: I have adapted it for inclusive gender words .
I wish, ancient and eternal King, to live in a hidden hut in the wilderness.
A narrow blue stream beside it, and a clear pool for washing away my sins by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
A beautiful wood all round, where birds of every kind of voice can grow up and find shelter.
Facing southward to catch the sun, with fertile soil around it suitable for every kind of plant.
And virtuous young men and women to join me, humble and eager to serve God.
Twelve young people -- three fours, four threes, two sixes, six pairs -- willing to do every kind of work.
A lovely church, with a white linen cloth over the altar, a home for God from heaven.
A Bible surrounded by four candles, one for each of the gospels.
A special hut in which to gather for meals, talking cheerfully as we eat, without sarcasm, without boasting, without any evil words.
Hens laying eggs for us to eat, leeks growing near the stream, salmon and trout to catch, and bees providing honey.
Enough food and clothing given by our Heavenly King, and enough time to sit and pray to him.
What would your perfect monastery look like and where would it be ?
Since posting, a news item on someone else's ideal monastery has appeared.But it is not what most people may have in mind. Click here