April 18, 2011

Birthing season

Baby

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.

Twins

11 comments:

Ianqui said...

So cute. That first one is the platonic ideal of a lamb.

jo(e) said...

Yeah, I feel like I take that same photo every year, but it's hard to resist. Baby lambs are actually as cute in real life as the ones in the children's books.

Tricia said...

Beautiful!

Amelie said...

Sounds like a wonderful retreat. Especially with the baby lambs.

sheepish said...

I always enjoy it when you go monking in the spring. So cute!

readersguide said...

Amazing to think of someone coming to a place at 20 and staying there his whole life. I can't imagine --

Songbird said...

Really, that lamb is amazing.

kathy a. said...

cute cute cute.

YourFireAnt said...

Jo(e), what are baby lambs?

;-)

Val said...

That first lamb is the epitome of adorable. It sounds like a wonderful trip for you, yet again this year. :)

comebacknikki said...

Sooo cute. I just want to kiss their little faces. :-)