As a Religious, my life places me at the edge of Church and society. My calling challenges me to witness to Christ, not by proselytizing, but simply by being. A hermit-monk's or nun's whole life is counter-cultural, challenging all Christians to live their Baptismal Vows fully, strive for their own transformation, and embody compassion, making the world a better place. This is not a popular place to be. In fact, Religious are dangerous for this very reason!
But part of that transformation means compassionate awareness of others, particularly those who suffer injustice, whether by the Church or the State. A monk or nun can stand back, look at the entire picture, striving to do so with Christ's eyes. Like the Trappist Thomas Merton, he or she can raise awareness through simple words, spoken or written, pointing to the situation. It is then that the monk or nun gets out of the way and lets the Holy Spirit act. Humility brings the realization that whatever happens, it is not about the monastic.
In the Community of Solitude, we find ourselves in a different situation in that we don't live in a monastery. Our cells are wherever we find ourselves; our cloister within our hearts. But this doesn't change our primary vocation of prayer, silence and solitude; yet, when the need arises, we can take a more public stand, but always rooted within that primary vocation. Like the willow in a tempest, we are rooted firmly but flexible as we raise our hands and hearts to the Beloved.