Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Forgive Daily

I am reading this book - again. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.

It basically involves a married, Presbyterian woman who decides to spend about 3 years living in a catholic, Benedictine monastery for inspiration for her poetry.

Weird, I know.

But it spoke to me.

If you did not know, one of my "gotta do some day" items was to spend a weekend on a retreat at a monastery. Which, BTW, I did last May. May 8th to be exact.

I did a little research on apparently Alabama is a "hot bed" of catholic goodies. I really was just looking for an experience. I found that a little town north of Birmingham has just what I was looking for. A Benedictine Monastery - St. Benard's Abbey.

I actually went. Seriously. I checked myself into a monastery just to experience what it is like to be "God focused" for an entire weekend.

I never really wrote about my experience. I talked it up before I went - but truly never shared what happened.

First of all, it totally threw me for a loop. I am not going to lie.

The grounds were simply magnificent. In a "english countryside" sort of way. It was quiet, the buildings old.. the wind was blowing just right - the entire "scene" of it all was perfect.

The rooms, as you can imagine are very sparse. You take a vow of poverty. I had a very uncomfortable bed with an old blanket and the world's biggest crucifix above my head. There was a simple folder on the bed with a schedule of prayer times, etc. No one greeted me upon arrival - my name was on a bulletin board with a room assignment. The door was unlocked.

Dinner was taken in silence with one monk reading from the bible. Breakfast in complete silence. Then lunch was more communal.

I went to mass every single time it was offered. I went hiking across the grounds. I went to the Ave Maria shrine (a trippy-mind experience all in and of itself.) I sat in a gazebo reading and actually ended up taking a nap. I went and pet the horses. I sat at the pond just contemplating life.

What I learned?? I am a social creature by nature. The Benedictine life is a HARD one to follow.

Most of the experience was emotional - and for me, I tend to state the facts. I am comfortable with sharing anger, but never much more. ;-)

Taking all of this back to the book I am reading - there is one line Kathleen mentioned. It's simple. I know it to be true, heard it a million times - but it was to "Forgive Daily."

That's a tough one. But you know what - it spoke to me.

I know the last two posts have been cryptic and I am clearly venting about someone or something. I appreciate your silence in responding to this. It was me venting, but not being able to lay it all out there on the line.

I woke up - and I forgive.

What I would like to leave you with is a few videos and pictures from my trip to the Abby. Perhaps you can pull some inspiration from the pictures and "feel" the silence. Visual images always speak volumes to me. Perhaps .. since I clearly am having trouble putting my thoughts into words (or rather the experience) - maybe I can tell the story and my feelings through the following items.

Many Blessings to you!

This one is not one of mine - but it shows the video of St. Benard's during mass! (I did not take video during mass - I thought it would be rude!)

Here is a video that someone put together of the Ave Maria Grotto.. better than what I had!

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