I’ve decided that, as part of my vacation, I want to “honeymoon with the Lord” by staying for a week (at least) in a monastery. People sometimes find it strange that I would want to spend part of my vacation in a monastery, but if the Lord really is my beloved, I don’t see why this is so hard to understand. If I were married no one would find it strange that I might want to go on vacation with my wife, and if I told them we were going together to a secluded spot to be by ourselves for part of that vacation, it would be seen as an excellent chance to renew the relationship. Well, duh! Why can’t this apply to our relationship with the Lord?
So today I visited the Trappist Monastery at Oka (you know, the place where they make the famous cheese). As I got there, I remembered why I love it there so much: it’s the serenity. The pace is different there, and it just melts all your distractions and stress away….at least, it does for me. I waited in their chapel for Vespers to begin, and I found the atmosphere incredibly calming after a hectic day — it was wonderful, and very conducive to prayer.
As strange as the monastic lifestyle seems to some people, I have found (by observation) that in fact they are the “sanest” people I know. I put sane in quotes because of its double meaning: they are mentally among the most balanced people I know, and their lifestyle is also very healthy. So if you have never spent time as a guest in a monastery, I strongly recommend the experience. The silence and the slowness drives some people crazy, but that’s just a measure of our own “in-sanity”. They key is to enter into it, and not resist — the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control — see Galatians 5: 22-23) await you.