Just Being

I recently spent a weekend in a monastic community. In early spring, I read an article about a monastery in Cambridge. I was intrigued because my mother has stayed at a monastery in western NY a few times over the years. The idea of escaping the concrete jungle for some quiet, reflective time appealed to me. As I was searching around the monastery’s website, the word “volunteers” caught my eye. The brothers offer free room and board to people who volunteer to garden. I contacted the monastery right away to schedule a visit.

The brothers have 144 acres of beautiful property with a main house dating from the 1720s, “hermitages” (nice cabins), walking trails, multiple gardens, and farm animals. To me, it sounded like an oasis.

And it was.

During my time there, I didn’t think about the past or the future, which I am prone to doing. It’s always been difficult for me to stay in the moment. But in this atmosphere of silence in a serene natural setting, I found it easy to “just be.”

Snapshots of favorite moments:

I weeded in a huge asparagus bed under a blazing hot sun and felt more triumphant the dirtier and sweatier I got. I was literally “in the weeds.”

The asparagus bed

The asparagus bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a gardening break, time stood still as I found myself watching a monarch butterfly flit from one blade of grass to the next for 10 minutes.

I met pigs that were so happy and friendly that I now understand the idiom “happy as a pig in mud.”

Friendly piggies

Friendly piggies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ate wonderful meals with the brothers and other guests—the only sounds being the clinking of forks and classical music wafting from a stereo.

Every day, I attended one of a few daily services in a small chapel connected to the house. We sang hymns unaccompanied and participated in a call and response with the brother leading the service. During the last service I attended, I was overcome with emotion for an unknown reason and started to cry.

The last night of my stay, I sat on a rock wall in front of a huge open field, reading a book as the sun set through a tall bank of trees.

Sunset

Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the brothers and other guests were so welcoming and hospitable. Being in their presence made me wish for a simpler, more meditative existence. I am a city girl at heart, but this visit has shown me that I need to find more of a balance in my life. To consciously make time to “just be.”

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anya
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 15:04:50

    That sounds wonderful. So glad you made that retreat happen!

    Reply

  2. Trent Bagley
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 08:45:38

    I glanced at your story about the monastery and love it. I have to go back and take a closer look and the pictures. Sounds like a great time!

    From: This and That <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Reply-To: This and That <comment+e19okn67on1a1b441yrdzv5@comment.wordpress.com> Date: Saturday, July 20, 2013 7:31 PM To: Trent Bagley <Trent_Bagley@emerson.edu> Subject: [New post] Just Being

    fancenance posted: “I recently spent a weekend in a monastic community. In early spring, I read an article about a monastery in Cambridge. I was intrigued because my mother has stayed at a monastery in western NY a few times over the years. The idea of escaping the concrete “

    Reply

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