What the Monk Said

PART THREE (the conclusion)

(To start at the beginning of my monastery journey, you can read Part One, here. Part Two can be found here.)

A man stands talking to the monk, but as soon as he leaves, I make a beeline for the desk. I have planned my opening line. One of the bookstore shelves had a small card on it, printed with the endorsement: “Brother Martin’s Favorites – ask him why!”

“Are you Brother Martin?” I ask.

I don’t think he is, of course – the monks take turns manning the desk, so I have about a one in twenty-five chance – but it’s the best icebreaker I can think up.

To my surprise, he smiles and nods his head. “I am.”

Here we go. Continue reading

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Silent Meals, Reading, and the Worst. Map. Ever.

PART TWO

(If you missed Part One, and you don’t know why I’m spending my 40th birthday in a monastery, you can read about it here.)

I don’t sleep well that night, of course. I rarely do; and here, the floors are creaky and the bed is small. I futz around, moving furniture, rearranging pillows, nearly knocking the crucifix from the wall once, when I flail around with extra blankets.

The monks gather in the chapel for Vigils at 4:15 a.m. I do not join them. Continue reading

Milestones and Monasteries

PART ONE

The sky threatens rain and is growing darker as I drive west, deep into wine country. It is the afternoon of my 40th birthday, and I will spend the next 48 hours largely in silence and solitude. Tomorrow will be my first day off in four-and-a-half long years; this trip is my husband’s surprise gift to me.

I am headed to a Trappist Monastery. And I could not have conjured up a more pleasing destination, at this moment of my life.

As a lifelong introvert, someone who craves silence and solitude, having babies and becoming a full-time mom has been an excruciating adjustment. Every moment of my life is now shared. Every minute brings a new demand. On the cusp of my 40th birthday, I feel about 80. I am exhausted and depleted. Continue reading