Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Visit To The Monastery

I woke up very early this morning. My bed was warm and soft. Outside my window it was dark and very cold. For a few moments I was tempted to simply roll over, go back to sleep, and re-enter my dream world. My better self prevailed and I got up and headed for the shower. Today was the first Sunday of the month and I was expected at the monastery. After I got dressed and ready I checked to see if I had everything I needed, i.e., notes for the group discussion, my chicken pasta casserole for the pot luck lunch, a Thomas Merton book for an opening reflection, and some music for the drive. Having everything I needed I headed out of the house. It was very cold with temperatures hovering around 20 degrees. I drove to the gasoline station and froze my butt off while filling the car up with fuel. Then, after a quick stop at McDonald's for coffee, I hit the road. Early on a Sunday morning, on a very cold December day, there is little traffic even on the Interstate. Soon I reached my first exit and I headed down the two lane Highway 245. I love this part of the drive. The sun began to rise and eventually showed its bright and orange face through the trees. At this time of year the bare trees stand at attention like sentinels at their posts guarding the surrounding countryside. Further down the road the morning sun stared me in the face and I was nearly blinded as I drove the winding road.

I arrived earlier than expected at the monastery. The monastery in winter is an exceptionally quiet place. I headed for the dining room for a refill of my coffee. I sat at a table and quietly looked out the window into the guesthouse garden. The room was warm and I was as happy as I could be. Soon the people....friends....I gather with every month began to arrive. They are a great bunch of people and I have known some of them for many years. We had some great discussion, we sang and prayed with the monks, and we ended our time together breaking bread and sharing a meal. I love the monastery, the monks, and these people. The monastery and the monks have been a huge influence on the kind of person that I am. It's a part of my life that is impossible for me to imagine not being part of my life. Whatever is good about me, the monastery deserves some of the credit.

On the way home from the monastery I stopped at the home of my friend, Fr. Dennis. I had not seen him in a couple of months. Last month my monastery visit and my visit with Dennis didn't happen because of the health issue that landed me in the hospital in early November. As I have said before, Dennis and I are like brothers. I always enjoy being with him and whenever we are together the discussions are often deep and the laughter is plentiful.

Tomorrow it's back to work as the December daze continues.

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