I love visiting this Benedictine Monastery. I love the chanting. I love the silence, I love the ritual. I love the feeling of going back in time 1500 years. I love that I am welcomed so warmly, sometimes with words and sometimes with a smile. I like the daily ritual of keeping the hours, and work and quiet. It is good to be reminded that I don’t have to be so busy. It is good to be reminded to live an intentional life, whatever that intention may be.
I did this painting during a free period. I painted with a joyful heart and a quiet spirit. The late morning light was so beautiful on the gate to the little guest cottage we stayed in.
Here is 5 year old Miriam playing in the mountains. She is not in the Austrian Alps, but in my mind’s eye she is, for a few months after this photo was taken she played Gretl in the “Sound of Music.” If I close my eyes I can see a mix of her playing in the mountains and her singing on stage…a perfect type cast for the littlest Von Tropp child.
Last summer, I watched her run this little loop for what felt like an entire afternoon…up the rocks through the stream, under the waterfall. I marveled at the time at how different her posture was from the boys. The boys would have had their elbows tucked in, their jumps would have been higher, more controlled, their whole approach more athletic. Miriam, however, never forgot to frolic. Every move seemed to pour out sheer joy. She is like that in life too, and from time to time, I remember to stand back and marvel. she helps me to remember that you don’t always have to walk, it is ok to skip sometimes. Instead of talking, you can sing a merry little tune, and most importantly, greet everyone you encounter with a smile and a few words – there are no strangers in Miriam’s world, and because of it, she has helped my world to grow smaller too.
If you start your day at 4:00am with an hour of Vigil. You can squeeze in a sunrise painting and a cup of coffee before chanting Lauds for 30 minutes and then attending Mass. Then you will have time for breakfast in silence and Terce in the chapel before your work day starts at 9am.
It is safe to say a spiritual retreat at Christ in The Desert Monastery is not your typical vacation.