NEWBERRY SPRINGS, Calif. -- Down an unpaved road, past brooding icons and swaying stands of mesquite, lies St. Antony's Monastery, a place of scorching winds and emptiness that perhaps only a holy man could love.
Little moves when the sun is high, but as the day wears on, black figures emerge from solitary rooms. These shrouded men, most from Egypt, are practicing the oldest monastic tradition in Christendom and tending its sole outpost in North America.
They spend days and night in prayer, seeking a mystical union with the divine.
"The desert gives you a great calmness of heart," said Father Antonious Saint Antony, one of 10 monks living here. "After a while God seems like a friend."
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