I am going to visit the sheep! And the monks! And the sleepy river that winds through woods that will be golden with autumn.
Tonight after work, I’ll drive with a friend past cornfields and hayfields, past old barns and little towns, past white churches and old stone fences. We’ll talk as we drive, catching up on several months of conversation. We’ve been friends for a couple of decades, which means we are able to discuss pretty much every aspect of our lives.
It’ll be dusk by the time we arrive at the monastery. The monks will be pulling long dark robes on over their workclothes in preparation for the evening service. The sheep will be gathered near the barn, their white wool glowing in the dim light.
We’ll carry our stuff into the old stone house, turn on the lights, and sit down for a cup of tea before the bell rings for compline. After talking non-stop for several hours in the car, Monking Friend and I will be ready for some quiet. I’ll unpack my journal; she usually brings a whole stack of books.
When the bell at the top of the chapel rings, we’ll walk over the the octogan-shaped chapel that was built with stone from the monastery land. When I open the heavy wooden door, the familiar smell will rush out at me – the smell of incense and melting wax, the scent of prayer. That is the moment that my weekend retreat begins.