Birds fly two miles straight from Eureka Springs, Ark., to Little Portion Hermitage and Monastery, home of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. For motorcoaches, the trip is a bit longer, 30 minutes up, down and around pretty Ozark Mountain roads, and worth every minute.
A Hidden Gem for religious groups in the Ozarks
Although the monastery has been tucked into a quiet mountain valley since the early 1980s, it is still a surprise to many. John Michael Talbot, the contemporary Christian recording artist who founded Little Portion, says visitors often ask, “Who has been keeping this a secret? How did I not ever hear of this place?”
It is likely to become better known, as many groups are taking domestic trips instead of abroad. For that, Little Portion can provide a spiritual experience closer to home.
“You can make a holy pilgrimage in your own country, not just as a tourist stop but as a pilgrimage to a holy spot for a few hours or a few days,” Talbot says.
Easy stop or home base for groups visiting Eureka Springs
Little Portion’s proximity to Eureka Springs makes it an easy stop for tours on their way to the Great Passion Play and Thorncrown Chapel. Visits accommodate a tour’s schedule and interests.
For some, it’s a quick stop, to stretch legs in Little Portion’s gardens or pray in its tiny, stone Portiuncula chapel. A longer visit could include prayers and chants with cloistered monks in the Monastery Chapel, designed by protégés of famed architect E. Faye Jones, followed by lunch in a dining room that overlooks the gardens. A guided tour could focus on varied topics like Little Portion’s history, the environmental design of its monastery, or the human need for silence.
Groups can also make the monastery their home base, staying in its spacious guesthouse with its four living rooms and kitchens and mix of private and dormitory-style accommodations.
“Wonderfully tasty” meals and bakery are a staple
Viola Talbot, John Michael’s wife and founding mother, cooks for everyone, and the meals she creates, her husband says, are far from the “bread and water or beans and rice,” expected at a monastery. “She is a genius with food,” says Talbot. “She can take a simple meal and turn it into something wonderfully tasty.”
Viola Talbot is also the mastermind behind Little Portion Bakery, which produces the all-natural Viola’s Granola, St. Clare’s Heavenly Breakfast Cookies and St. Anthony’s Hermit Bars. It’s the rare visitor who leaves without a bag of baked goods, purchased in a small gift shop where John Michael’s CDs and books are also available. He’s modest about his success as a musical artist and author of 40 books. “I was famous in the 80s and 90s,” he says, somewhat sheepishly. “The front page of the Wall Street Journal and featured in People magazine.”
All are welcome
It seems his focus now is on sharing his community and Little Portion Hermitage and Monastery, reminding that all are graciously and warmly welcomed there. “Clearly, we are unapologetically Christian and Catholic,” he says, “but we don’t push it down anyone’s throat. We are open to people of all faiths–Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhists, Hindu.”
For more information:
Little Portion Hermitage and Monastery
877-504-9865 or 479-253-0253