Prayer Retreat 2010

There is no better way to start off a new year than with a prayer retreat.

Thanks to the prodding and trouble of a faithful friend, I was able to spend the last few days in silence and solitude once again, at the Abbey of Gethsemani, in Trappist, Kentucky (don't laugh, it's a real place!), one of my favorite spots on earth.

There I was able to read and pray and worship with the monks seven times a day, a retreat that never fails to rest and renew and refocus me. This year was no different. (By the way, I was dying to ask if the monk at the upper right, not the one coming in the door, but the one standing in the choir, was being punished or was mad at someone or something like that....but I didn't).

I expected to stay for the first time in the monastic wing, where the rooms do not have private bathrooms. But it turned out that there were enough no-shows that I was not only accommodated in the Guest House, but had the most commodious (pun intended) bathroom ever in all my stays at the Abbey.

While I was there, an inch or two of snow fell.

I would have liked to have stayed long enough to hear the Notre Dame concert choir that was to sing there on Saturday, but alas, they neglected to consult my schedule before planning theirs.

Someone PLEASE remind me that my spirit NEEDS this Sabbath much more frequently than I've been taking it the last three years (during which my retreats have been roughly 16 months apart).

If you want to know more about the abbey (Thomas Merton's monastery, by the way; he's buried there, and at least one of his fellow monks who knew him still live there), visit www.monks.org. No kidding. The monks have a website.

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