Silence and Spirituality in Wild Places

An author and an abbess reflect on the solace of nature and the art of stillness in a noisy world.

“We need the tonic of wildness,” wrote American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau in Walden, or A Life in the Woods.  

What is that tonic – and why is the natural world something of a cure?  

Dr Eleanor Limprecht discovered ocean swimming during lockdown. She’s also the author of The Coast, a work of historical fiction about Alice, a nine-year-old girl with leprosy who’s sent to live with her mother in a lazaret (leper colony) at the Coast Hospital in Sydney – today’s Prince Henry Hospital, which was originally a hospital for infectious diseases. 

The ocean becomes a source of solace for Alice – as it turned out to be for Eleanor. She tells us about her first ocean swim and the overlaps between Covid and The Coast, since she finished writing the novel during lockdown.   

We also hear from Abbess Hilda Scott or Mother Hilda of Jamberoo Abbey on NSW’s South Coast. She tells us about the Desert Fathers and Mothers, early Christian hermits who pursued their religious callings in the wilderness. They have much to teach us, she says, about the search for silence in a noisy world. 


Dr Eleanor Limprecht’s latest novel The Coast 

Eleanor’s discovery of ocean swimming during lockdown 

Jamberoo Abbey