Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Monastery/Writing Week-end: Quick Impressions

Ah, how my morning has already gotten away from me--what a contrast to my time at the monastery.  Why is it so much easier to work on big projects there?  Well, for one thing, I don't have to schedule time around my paid work.  And there aren't the other distractions of spouse, exercise class, Internet attractions, chores, television, all the things which pull my attention away.

I had plans not only to blog but to get some memoir revision done today.  I think that won't be happening, at least not this morning.

Still, let me record some fast Mepkin Abbey memories--I'll do some longer posts later.

While I was at the monastery, I reread Kathleen Norris' The Cloister Walk.  Much of that book revolves around her time at a monastery.  It was REALLY neat to read the book while I was participating in some of the same activities.  Why haven't I done that before?

Even though the book is almost 20 years old, it still feels fresh and interesting.  My prayer:  let me be that kind of writer!

I'm struck by all the other activities, non-monk, non-religious activities that are taking place in any given week-end.  The grounds are beautiful, even in the dead of winter (not that South Carolina winters are dead in the same way that upstate New York winters are).  There's always lots of people walking, and lots of people doing photo shoots of all kinds.

I even saw a woman in a wedding dress.  They took shots at various places.  I guess the big oaks with the Spanish moss make a good back drop.  I kept seeing that white dress and the mud and the pavement and wondering what they were thinking.  Would they clean the dress before the wedding?

One year I was there and there was some huge bike ride going on--cyclists stopped at the Abbey to have a bathroom break and to get water and a snack.  The monks weren't part of that, except for having bathrooms open at the gift shop.  Still, I wondered what the cyclists made of it all.  Or if they even understood where they were, at a place that's much more than a fueling stop.

Many of the riders commented over the sign that pointed towards the African American cemetery.  I finally walked to it this trip, but more on that later.

I also wondered about young men who decide to commit to cloistered life.  How do their parents feel?  It's not like in the past, where cloistered people will never see their parents, but those visits will certainly be more restricted.

Maybe parents feel relief that their child has a purpose, maybe relief at the idea that the child's needs will be taken care of.

Maybe there's sorrow over the lack of grandchildren--but maybe today's modern parents aren't counting on that anyway.

I still have the liturgy of the monastery running through my head.  Last night I had lots of strange dreams, and I'd wake up with the Compline chant in my head:  "Lord, watch us while we are awake.  Protect us while we are asleep."

Maybe I'll try to hang onto those words in wakefulness too.

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