The urgent honking of cars darting through the busy intersection of Interstate 75 and Lovers Lane might make the bordering small blue house dedicated to prayer and solitude seem out of place.
For the Rev. Thomas and Marcia Hotchkiss, it is the perfect environment for their urban abbey, The Abbey on Lovers Lane.
The center opened last August to promote contemplative spirituality, a way of prayer. Although it neighbors Saint Christopher’s Episcopal Church, The Abbey on Lovers Lane is open to all.
“They don’t have to be Episcopalian, and they don’t have to go to any church,” Marcia Hotchkiss said. “They just have [to have] a desire to come.”
Right as you step inside the little blue house, the guiding belief of the abbey is apparent. Welcoming you in is a picture of blossoming tree branches emblazoned with Psalm 46:10.
“[The Psalm] says, ‘Be still and know that I am God,’” Hotchkiss said. “That’s our outstanding belief. We think that people need slowing, silence, solitude, and time to quit having this frenetic activity that most of us have.”
To help accomplish this, The Abbey on Lovers Lane offers spiritual direction and programs. Some upcoming programs include a young mothers’ half-day retreat, a series about what to do when you have unanswered prayers, a clergy spouse retreat, and a class dedicated to teaching the basics of prayer.
“It’s going to be called ‘Prayer: A Simple Guide for Normal People,’” Hotchkiss said.“It’ll be three or four weeks [about the] basics of how to pray. We’ll follow that up in Advent with a retreat on how to listen to God.”
The center is open for those seeking silence and solitude, including plush futons and comfy armchairs framing each of the two bedrooms converted into spaces for quiet and reflection. There is also a living room with plenty of comfy seating like a sofa and two armchairs, a dining room, and a functional kitchen complete with a coffee-maker. Flyers about upcoming programs are scattered on side and coffee tables, and religious reading materials are gently stacked in several bookcases for visitors to peruse.
Outside lies a quiet garden space with seating and a model of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, where visitors may place prayers written on slips of paper into the wire mesh for prayer team members to bless and consecrate.
Eventually, Hotchkiss said she hopes to expand The Abbey on Lovers Lane into a nonprofit.
“We’d like to meet the needs of as many different types of people as possible,” Hotchkiss said. “We feel like it’s one person at a time.”