04 June 2009

Back on the 'Island"

I am back home from my visit to Mount St. Bernard's. I kept a bit of a journal, and I wrote a little something almost every day of my two-week visit. I will start posting a couple entries at a time. I am not going to edit the entries so that you may see how my view point develops over the days:

May 18th

I was picked up at Nottingham Station by a friend of mine that I had not seen since his ordination 10 years ago. At that time we had both lost our fathers, now both our mothers have passed , too. We had a pleasant chat and arranged to meet each other after my retreat.

I received a very warm welcome from Br. Paul. He made some tea and we had a little talk. After the Office of Sext, Br. Clement, a novice, gave me the grand tour. He did his best to show me how the books for the Liturgy of the Hours worked together, too: The Psalter, Antiphonal, and Hymnal . He also taught me the three most common signs of the Cistercian Sign Language: Thank You, Sorry, and Joyful. Thank you is similar to the American Sign Language sign, Sorry is a couple mea culpas, and a was greeted with outstretched arms and a big smile. That can means, Happy Feast Day, or Welcome, or any Joyful Greeting. I received that greeting quite a few times.

It is a little past 8 PM and still quite sunny. But 3:15 AM comes early, so it is bedtime.

May 19th

I woke up way too early today - hours before Vigils. I was supposed to sleep in today, too. Hearing the church bells as they rang for Vigils at 3:25 sounded quite lovely. An hour later the first birds began to chirp. I am slowly getting the hang off the books of the Liturgy of the Hours. The Psalter is on a one-week cycle, the antiphonal is on a two-week cycle, and things are a little more complex since this is the Easter season.

I am meeting more of the community but it is not always easy remembering all the names. I spoke with a brother in temporary vows. He was telling me that he attended a lecture from a Benedictine sister from Chicago. Later in the conversation he told me that he had looked at the Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank, too, as part of his discernment process.

I did get an unfriendly greeting today from Tim, the abbey’s cat. He hissed at me; but being a good Trappist cat, he made no sound as he hissed.

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