About the Author

This blog is a diary about a solitary life with donkeys. 

The evolution of the blog began with Brother Lapin’s Pilgrimage from 2010 to 2015. 

This Equusasinus blog continued with the search for a more solitary life in 2016, at El Parral in the Costa Blanca mountains.

 

Gareth Thomas

I had a mixed early career as an RAF technician, then community theatre writer. Voluntary social work in the church led to contact with the Franciscans, and eventually life as a friar.

In Liverpool I worked in a pastoral support role in a poor inner-city parish, and then moved into silence in Glasshampton monastery which was my introduction to a more contemplative kind of life. I went to France and lived in the 12th century Abbaye Saint Martin du Canigou perched high in the Pyrenees. 

There followed a break from religious community life, with ten years teaching in Kent schools, most of that time at the Archbishop’s School in Canterbury; but I could not shake off the call of religious vocation.

I resigned my teaching post and went to explore vocation again. My time in the great Carthusian Charterhouse at Parkminster was a very formative experience, living in a two storey hermitage in the Great Cloister. The relentless tyranny of the clock was exhausting, but the spiritual guidance was wonderful and very humane. The Carthusian life was not for me: paradoxically, it was too ‘busy’: a non-stop round of ‘commuting’ between hermitage and choir-stall.

The vocations director of the Archdiocese of Southwark sent me to seminary at the Pontifical Beda College, Rome.  This was a year largely spent hating philosophy, perfecting my game of pool, and appreciating Rome.

I was soon back in Canterbury looking for another teaching job, but instead I found a job in Spain. I ended up in the Costa Blanca and did a decade teaching geography in classrooms looking out over quite stunning mountain scenery. For once, teaching became enjoyable, but in my mixed career the best thing I ever did was live a series of moments in the hidden marginal world of monks and hermits. I was always at home in solitary silence.

Four years ago I searched for a permanent place to live with my four donkeys and I saw it as a search for a hermitage. In El Parral in the mountains, I found the right place. The 2020-2021 COVID-19 lockdowns meant staying at home has become everyone’s vocation. So maybe I’m finally as solitary as everyone else now, living in a hobby-hermitage.

Pax et bonum. Deo gratias.