St. Meinrad Archabbey Day 2 1/2

Apr 24, 2013

I arrived at St. Meinrad Archabbey in the rolling hills of Indiana on Monday afternoon. St. Meinrad is both a town name and the name of the Benedictine monastery that has existed here since the mid 1800’s. The beauty of the setting and the buildings was unexpected. Dogwoods, forsythia, azaleas, red-buds, hellebore are all in bloom. A palette of greens, browns, yellows, and pinks spatters the hills with color. The sandstone Archabbey Church is a fabulous worship space filled with mesmerizing geometric designs and beautiful liturgical art and sculpture by local artisans.

The purpose of my visit is a week-long, self-imposed retreat to jump-start some writing projects. I am under the misguided illusion that my house and daily life are a distraction to creativity. A block of time away will give me the chance to read, think, pray, write, draw, listen to the Spirit, worship, pay attention and come home with a full-blown book. A few of those things might happen. I’ve been on enough retreats to know this: What I expect and what I receive are often very different. If I’m really listening, my own plans may get vaporized. While I’m alone and “undistracted,” God might have something else in mind.

I have survived my personal monkdom for about 48 hours now. It may not be my permanent calling but for now I’m content to be fed, worship several times a day, take walks and park myself in a chair to read and study.
Two unsought mini-miracles happened last night. (A surprised “Gasp” of delight qualifies an event as a mini-miracle.)
1. At about 8PM I went to the refectory for hot water for tea. The doors were closed. But in the hallway to the refectory were a bunch of priests being entertained by a host monk. They had a tableful of wine; they offered me a glass. If turning tea into wine isn’t a miracle, I don’t understand the concept.
2. I took my wine outside and saw the night sky in the picture below.
So far there is no great miracle of writing. But there’s still time. My friend Susan from Memphis made this wacky observation: “It appears that you are at Hogwarts! ¬†Maybe this means that you will be writing a best seller while you are there.” If that’s true, I guess the book about liturgical practice will just have to wait.