Mepkin Abbey Monastic Guest Program was an opportunity for me to experience Christian monasticism close-up, something I’ve wanted to do for sometime. As a contemplative from a different tradition than Catholicism, I had a strong interest in exploring the forms and the devotion I understood to be an integral part of Trappist life.
The brothers welcomed me with open arms and a grace that could only come from hearts truly opened to God and their fellow brothers and sisters. I lived, worked and prayed right alongside the brothers. I felt a part of the community. I was included wholeheartedly into their daily lives, and I was offered the opportunity to include them in my daily practice of prayer, meditation and work.
The gift of this program is the holistic nature of the experience. It is rare in our busy lives that we are offered the opportunity to bring our prayer and contemplative practice into our workaday world. At Mepkin, ideally, all the aspects of the daily routine -prayer, work, meditation, personal time – are of a single piece, a seamless blending of a heart turned to the transcendent reality of love and grace. In a sense, I felt that God was living and working alongside me at Mepkin.
It is a rigorous schedule, one better driven by faith than just curiosity. It isn’t a vacation. But there was the support of the brothers and the resource of their vast experience to help me through it.
I feel that I got out of the program what I put into it. I was dedicated. I left with a wonderful feeling of peace, contentment with myself and others, and a closeness to God that I haven’t felt in a long time.