April 18, 2011
Cold wind and rain greeted us when we arrived at the monastery Friday evening. Retreat Friend and I had stopped on our way through town to buy Chinese food, so after we carried out things into the old stone farmhouse, we sat down at the wooden table for hot soup, hot rice, and steaming vegetables. It was still raining when we were done with our supper, so instead of my usual walk around the sheep farm, I went over to the chapel.
I love the musky scent of candle wax and incense that greets me when I pull open the heavy wooden door to the chapel. I descended the long stone staircase into the crypt, which is lit a hundred or so votive candles set on a low stone altar. I’d promised a friend I’d light a candle for his 40th birthday, so I lit the candle and set it amidst all the other glass jars. I sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the candles: it’s my favourite spot at the monastery. I can spend hours in that spot, praying or meditating or just thinking.
It wasn’t until morning that I made my way over to the sheep barn. Lambing season had just begun, and several of the ewes had already given birth. The wind whipping through the open barn was cold, so I didn’t linger, just stopped long enough to admire the newest lambs. The weather didn’t seem to bother the sheep: I guess that’s the advantage of a wool coat.
A cold rainy weekend is good for reading, for writing, for afternoon naps, and long conversations. Retreat Friend, Nurse Friend, and I talked a bunch, and each took some quiet time too. Brother Beekeeper caught me after Mass on Sunday to say hello, and we went out to the sheep barn together. He just celebrated a milestone birthday – his 70th – and he said he’d light a candle for me next week to celebrate my 50th birthday. He came to the monastery the fall before I was born, so he’s lived on that land my entire life. We talked about our lives, our mortality, and our plans for the next decade as we stood in the sheep barn and watched ewes giving birth.
Posted by jo(e)