Ever since he was a boy in Norway, the son of a country vet, Erik Varden has felt a sense of longing – of homesickness “for a homeland I recall but have not seen”. There were decades of “rudderlessness, pain and questions” before he discovered where this was leading him: before, 17 years ago, aged 26, he arrived at the enclosed Cistercian monastery of Mount Saint Bernard in Leicestershire, where he is now Abbot, and where he hopes to die.
The Shattering of Loneliness, shortly to be published by Bloomsbury Continuum, is the fruit of his years of searching. It is that rare thing: a book that had to be written. It could change lives.
“Must I have personal experience of something to say, in truth, that I remember it?” Varden asks in his introduction.