Monday, September 18, 2006

Saturday Night

I am just returning to the monastery after having dinner in town with Dennis. We always have a great time together. He’s much more extroverted than me and one of the funniest people I know. We laugh and joke a lot but much of our conversation is also serious.

The sun has set but I can still see the hills and fields outside my window. I like the ending of the day almost as much as I like the beginning. I don’t always like the middle part of the day when the sun is high and life is moving much more quickly.

It is easy for me to just sit here and be. This time at the monastery is called the Grand Silence. It lasts from Night Prayer (Compline) until the morning work period. Although silence is always valued and sought in the monastery, during the Grand Silence special care is taken to be quiet. People walk softly and close doors gently. There are no radios or television. Guests are asked to turn off their cell phones. If talking is necessary, it is done in a whisper. The silence is soothing and healing and wraps around you like a warm blanket.

I brought five books with me. The only one I have actually read is The Cistercian Way by Andre Louf. Cistercian refers to the type of monk in this monastery. They came to this place in 1848 to escape the French Revolution. Their origins go back to the year 1098 and the city of Citeaux, France. Citeaux is one of the cities I visited in the summer of 2005.

I have read that only 14% of all Catholics attend mass on a regular basis. Yet, this retreat house is packed and you must reserve a room months or even a year in advance. What does this say about the spiritual hunger in the world today? Many of the people who come here are not Catholic and some not Christian. The Dalai Lama has been here twice.

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