Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Early Arrival Of Winter

I woke up naturally about 6:00 AM this morning as I do most days. I wanted to stay in bed but I had plans to go to the monastery. I slowly got out of bed before the alarm went off and headed for the shower. After showering and getting dressed I went downstairs to gather my things and hit the road. Going outside was a shock. When I got out of the city and in the country, the temperature was in the teens. We are still about two weeks away from winter but no one told nature. It was very cold and I had a heavy frost on my car. It took a little while to get the car warm and the windshield scraped. Of course, I needed gas so I had to stop and freeze my butt off while I filled the tank. I then went across the street to a convenience store for some coffee and muffins. Inside the store I walked into an argument between two clerks because one was accusing the other of drinking on the job. When the man referred to the woman as "honey", she said "How would you like a sexual harassment complaint too"! I decided to get out of there before the guns came out and they shot one another. Soon I was on the road with hot coffee, a warm car, and the countrified sounds of Levon Helm.

The early hour and frigid morning must have kept many people in their beds. Traffic was sparse and soon I was on a peaceful journey to the home of my friend, Fr. Dennis. After I got off the interstate highway the sun began to rise. One of the payoffs for being up and out early on a winter's morning are the beautiful sunrises. As I approached Dennis's home I could see the twinkling of Christmas tree lights. Inside the house and the hospitality were warm.

When I got to the monastery I felt a sense of peace that often overcomes me when I am there. I met with a group of friends and had some good discussion before joining the monks in church for today's mass for the 2nd Sunday of Advent. I love the austerity of the Cistercian architecture, especially when the abbey church is full of the sounds of their wonderful pipe organ and the aroma of incense wafts through the air. I am always reminded of the Psalmist words, "Let my prayer, O Lord, rise before you like incense"! After mass we had a wonderful lunch where I ate too much while having a great discussion with a monk visiting from Rome.

The drive home was rough in spite of the fresh cup of coffee I had with me. I was very fatigued. As soon as I got home I immediately took a nap and slept until I went out to dinner with my wife and son before he headed back to the seminary. My trips to the monastery are always anticipated and enjoyed but for reasons I don't understand they are also exhausting. However, I will continue to go as long as I can still find my way out there.

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