September 28, 2009



After a full day of teaching classes and a tense department meeting that went overtime, I grabbed my bags and jumped into a car with Monking Friend. We talked as we drove through miles of farmland, high up into the hills where the trees are just beginning to turn yellow. We caught up on news, vented stress, and told each other, “I really need this retreat.”

It was getting dark when we pulled up to the stone farmhouse where we’d be staying. I could barely see the white cross on the old barn near the sheep pasture. The bell at the top of the chapel was ringing for compline, the last service of the day.

As I pulled open the heavy wooden door to the chapel, I could smell that familiar musty scent, a mix of incense and melting wax. The monks were already gathered, wearing their dark robes, standing quietly in the candlelight. I slid into my usual spot, a simple wooden bench. Brother Beekeeper caught my eye across the stone altar and smiled. As the monks began to chant, I could feel the muscles in my shoulders begin to relax. It was good to be back.


BrightenedBoy said...

They must be so delighted to have you visit on a regular basis, even if it is only twice a year.

kathy said...

Your lucky to have a place like that. Your descriptions always make it sound so peaceful.

jo(e) said...

BB: I am thrilled to have a place like this to go to. In addition to praying seven times each day, the monks do a lot of hard work to keep the monastery functioning. It's a working 400-acre farm.

Bethany said...

Long time lurker here... I, too, love reading your descriptions of visits to the monastery. How did you first start going there?

Songbird said...

What's weird is how little time pastors spend doing what you describe, because we could really use more of it. Hope the time is restful and refreshing.

jo(e) said...

Bethany: It was a friend's idea. Several of us women wanted a chance to get away for the weekend -- without our husbands and kids. The first couple of times we went, we stayed in a hotel with a pool. Then one of the women found this monastery (online, I think) and said, "They have a guesthouse. Let's try that." Since we all grew up Catholic, all of us had been to retreat places before and liked the idea of going on a retreat.

We went one weekend in the fall, about twelve years ago, and I knew right away that the place was for me. I've gone back at least twice each year ever since.