Since having been drawn into a life’s journey of contemplation many years ago through the reading of Henri Nouwen’s writings, I’ve gotten to the point on the journey where the need for solitude and quiet, spiritual direction and guidance, community and support, accountability and structure became imminent for continued growth. I reread The Genesee Diary and was encouraged to seek out a retreat at a Trappist monastery and this search led me to Mepkin. During the month of August 2019, I participated in Mepkin’s Monastic Guest Program with the hope of strengthening my contemplative life.
Everything I needed to grow and strengthen I found. The time I spent with the Monks at Mepkin turned out to be more than I prayed for. I was completely immersed and participating in the full monastic schedule including the Divine office, work and the liturgy with the entire community. I received spiritual direction, guidance and support which enabled me to grow and develop in my private prayer life particularly contemplative prayer and lectio divina.
Because of the depth of silence and solitude which could never be escaped across the entire monastery, I was able to hear and listened to God clearly and this clarity helped me to grow in intimacy and encounter God on a deeper level like never before. I was also able to foster a deeper knowledge of self.
The work I was assigned in growing and harvesting of mushrooms was simple, appropriate and strikes a good balance with the daily schedule. The daily schedule never changes and it took me just about a week to acquire the rhythm of the day. Wednesdays and Sundays are different though they are rest days and no manual labor is undertaken.
My desire to live and immerse myself for one month with the Monks at Mepkin Abbey did not develop overnight. It is the outcome of many months of restless searching. While realizing my growing need to step back from the noises and cares of the world, I knew that I could never do it alone, but required the help of an entire community which the monks lovingly and hospitably provided.
Through this experience I am now able to surrender more to God’s will and this surrender is leading me towards becoming a permanent member of the community.