If you look closely at this photo, you can see the white steeple of the monastery chapel, the long buildings where the monks live, and on the right edge, the sheep barn with the cross on it. It's a Benedictine monastery, with monks who come to the chapel seven times each day for prayer. It's also a working sheep farm, with big flocks of sheep that get sheered every spring, plus several donkeys who are there to help keep the coyotes away from the sheep.
I'm leaving after work today for a weekend retreat at the monastery. Six of us women will be staying at the women's guesthouse, an old farm house that sits on a hill just above the monastery. We'll make time to talk to each other, of course, especially over meals, but this will also be a weekend for quiet and reflection. I'm bringing portfolios that I need to grade (ah, there's no escaping the endless grading this time of year), but I'm also bringing my journal. February is a good time to meditate and take stock.
Retreat Friend will be driving up with a friend this afternoon, and I'll be driving with Piano Teacher, who has never been to the monastery before. I'm looking forward to showing her sheep barns, the bookstore, the guesthouse, and the chapel, with the crypt below where dozens of candles burn in front of an old stone statue. I know she'll love the evening service: Brother Tractor plays the harp while monks in dark robes chant in the candle-lit chapel.
Sunday, I'll be thinking of friends and students in Washington DC, at a huge rally to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline. It will be a gathering of activists who want to stop climate change before it gets any worse. I'll light a candle for all of them. I hope that all the events go safely and that their message gets heard.