As advertised, Mepkin Abbey welcomes people of all faith backgrounds. As someone raised in the Roman Catholic tradition but having come to Zen Buddhism later in my life, I always felt totally accepted in the community. Everyone put in effort to understand my own life experiences and meet me where I was without any judgment.
My greatest personal challenges during my stay were getting up at 3:40 in the morning and remembering to be vigilant about the rule of silence. I must admit my desire to be chatty could get in the way at times, but in the end it lead to higher-quality interactions between myself and members of the community over the course of my stay. Not to mention the meditative joy of chanting and participating in the Hours.
Mepkin is doing some very important work in keeping 1500-year old monastic traditions and insight alive. Traditions that are as relevant for us in the 21st century as they have been for all those who have lived and learned between now and the days of St. Benedict. Things that make us better people regardless of background. That they are showing up to do this every day, despite challenges and adversity, is a blessing to all the rest of us.