Corhaven. What does it mean? ‘Haven’ is obvious. It is a quiet place of refuge and sanctuary, a place of shelter, safety, and peace. Over the centuries, ‘haven’ has often been used as another word for a port or harbor, which implies a place on a journey where the traveler can come out of the wind and waves and find rest, and refreshment. The Latin word for ‘Heart’ is ‘Cor’. The heart is the center of our selves, the seat of our emotions, and in some usages it is another word for soul. Our heart is the depth of our souls and selves.
So put together, Corhaven is a place of shelter and sanctuary for the heart. And this implies somehow the presence of God, for as St. Augustine said, “Our heart is restless ‘til it rests in You”– Inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.
We took a long time discerning the name of this place–17 acres of field and forest in the Shenandoah Valley–and sought the counsel and inspirations of many friends. Many suggestions and affirmations were offered, and some of those suggestions will find their way into whatever emerges here. But two things in particular have led us to know that this is a good and right name for this small piece of God’s good earth.
After the surprise possibility of moving here came unexpectedly for us out of the blue on Easter Monday, 2009, it was on the June 19 following that we knew with deep certainty, for the first time, that this was to be. Going to the Basilica in Washington DC to thank God for that, we were blessed to find that June 19 was (not coincidentally) the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Since the earliest days of the Church, the sacred heart of Jesus has been seen as a deep symbol of the love of God, with clear devotions and reflections emerging in the 11th century, then marking the ministry of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 12th cent), founder of the Trappist monastic order. The French for ‘Sacred Heart’ is ‘Sacre Coeur’. Corhaven is dedicated to Jesus, and particularly the love of God manifested through his heart. Corhaven is offered that any who come and the many who do come would know God’s love here, and share God’s love wherever.
Then, late in our listening for the name, a last thing solidified the sense that Corhaven is right. Among the many favorite and sacred places for us around the world, is that “thin place” of the Island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. It was there in 563 that St. Columba landed and founded a monastery that would nurture the worship of God and spread of the Gospel for centuries. The small beach on the southern tip of Iona is a place of great meaning for us, and it was on this beach in that year that Columba’s small boat, a coracle, came to shore and he stayed. That pebbly beach in Gaelic is called, ‘Port a Churaich’, or in English, ‘Haven of the Coracle’.
So, Corhaven…a sanctuary for the hearts of those on a journey, where God can be found, where the love of his heart can be known. The motto here is Caritas et Veritas–Love and Truth.