Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Abbey of Gethsemane

Abbey of Gethsemane

My favorite place in all the world is the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky. I wish I still lived close enough to visit in the afternoon sometimes and attend church services there on occasion. It would be an excellent outlet for those who can't sleep. Where else can you attend prayer meetings at 3:15 a.m.?? I don't really know that much about the monastic lifestyle. All the monks there look exactly the same to me. I find their lifestyle extreme and yet amazingly peaceful. There's just something about an Abbey thriving on silence and solitude that makes God easier to find for me.
Their life calling is engraved on everything there and they live it 100%.
The vows of obedience, stability, and conversion of manners provide our structure, support, and encouragement to persevere in the journey, in the work, in the search. Intently and joyfully, we live the mystery of Christ-among-us.

I love the grounds there complete with larger than life statues that tell the Gospel story. I love when you turn the final corner of their road all you see is a cross. A simple wooden handmade cross and you realize it's more than enough. I have never seen that cross when tears of unworthiness mixed with gratitude have not streamed down my face.
I love that when you go to the visitors desk they don't make you give them your phone/laptop/connection to the outside world, they just hold out their hand. I think it's the most spiritual moment I've ever experienced when the sun is going down there and you have no idea what time it is or what has happened in the world today. And you realize you don't really care. God clearly operates best in our lives when we don't hold Him to our schedule. I love that their libraries are filled to the ceiling with classic books-real books-that have been really read over and over again. I love that there's no tv in the guest house or anywhere else. I love that when you walk by people they acknowledge you without speaking and you leave feeling like it was a wonderful conversation.
I love that no one asks you what you're doing there or why you're alone. People don't come to a silent Abbey to explain themselves-they come to do serious business with God. When you check in the monk asks, "Do you require spiritual assistance during your visit?" If you answer yes I assume they will arrange it. If you answer no he says, "Then may you find the answers to your questions in God alone." Love that.
I'm obviously not Catholic, but I love to be there for their vespers service and the benediction service to close the day. They are both SO simple and profound. To thank God for this day, to confess that all that we have done is not the best we could have and to commit the night and the following day to His loving hand. Amazing. I'm fairly certain I talk too much and am far too much a people person to ever be committed to this lifestyle long term, but there's something about visiting there that just fills my spiritual cup to overflowing. Maybe it's just getting away from things. Maybe because there you can sit in the middle of an overfilled church and hear nothing but the voice of God. Maybe because when you do hear people talk, it's of things that are eternal and almost exclusively the word of God.
AND-I love that a month from today I will be there! Nestled in wonderful silence for 36 hours of a personal retreat. A silent personal retreat. I cannot think of anything I need more. Can. Not. Wait. :)

1 comment:

RozettaBaptist said...

Oh, baby...I'll meet you there! And I'm book-marking their website!