June 23, 2008
The monastery grounds, which consist mostly of sheep barns and pastures spread high on a hill above farmland and woods and a sleepy river, seemed the right place to welcome summer. On the longest day of the year, I wandered along paths, smelling the dried grasses, the new timothy, and the wildflowers that clustered along the gates and fences. The scents of summer sank into my muscles, relaxing me. Perhaps it's because I've always had such carefree summers of camping and hiking and gardening, spending as much sunny weather as I can outdoors, that warm air brushing against my bare arms has the ability to brush away stress. As a child, I always liked the "summer" sections of books: the adventures of the Melendy family in the Elizabeth Enright books, or sunny weather on the prairies with the Ingalls family, or the walks on the Big Hill with Betsy, Tacy, and Tib. I'd read them on winter afternoons just to feel soothed by the descriptions of summertime.
Perhaps you need to experience winter in a place that gets a whole lot of snow to fully appreciate how wonderful it feels to walk in the evening without a sweatshirt, watching the long shadows fall across the fields. I love the lazy rhythm of summer, and at the monastery, the summer quiet is especially deep, broken only by the bleating of the sheep and the tolling of the chapel bell, calling monks and inviting guests to prayer.
Posted by jo(e)