Hoodlums in Kentucky

Friends and Admirers,

I started drafting this post weeks ago, but I needed to get that topical Valentine’s Day post up before it went out of fashion, and then i just got busy, but the following events actually occurred the weekend before my previous post.

i want to post pictures of graveyards too

i want to post pictures of graveyards too!

Two weekends ago, the Fellows went to a monastery called Gethsemane in Kentucky on a retreat that focused on silence, solitude, and contemplative prayer.  Naturally, I was very curious to see a real, live monk or two. I realized as we were driving up that all I knew about Catholicism comes from Medieval Studies courses, Sister Act, Rudy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Sister Act 2, what Amanda told me about dating a Catholic boy once, the Pope’s Myspace playlist (that is real thing… it includes 2Pac http://tinyurl.com/yhjlydq), and Cruel Intentions. I figured that many of these sources could give inaccurate representations.

I also knew that my favorite jelly is made by monks (Trappist jellies) and that Scottish monks make a caffeinated wine that is linked to a majority of crimes in several Scottish towns, so I was really looking forward to some sort of wonderful monkmade treats. (Our monk friends made cheese and bourbon fudge. Both were delicious, but I found myself wishing they’d just leave out the fudge part of bourbon fudge).

get thee to a nunnery

get thee to a nunnery

There were a few things that had me less than thrilled when we first arrived. First of all, I had been invited by my former roommatextrodinaire Laura to party with celebrities in Miami that weekend at the superest of bowls. But I had to turn down the invitation in order to go be silent with monks. Bitter pill.  Then, to add salt in my open wounds, we drove by some of Kentucky’s finest distilleries (Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve) en route to monkville and didn’t stop. But to be reals, the whole experience was wonderful. It was a much-needed break from my packed schedule and 11 roommate living situation to be forced to spend a weekend with no scheduled activities, very little stuff, and in silence. I read. I prayed. I worked on memorizing some verses. I wrote some letters. I knitted. I went on walks. I slept.

this poster (with inspirational quote) coming to a dentist office near you!

this poster (with inspirational quote) coming soon to a dentist's office near you!

We stayed in simple rooms with a bed, desk, chair, and icon on the wall. Since the day monks arrived at this site in 18-somethingorother (relatively recently in monk terms), monks have been praying every day at these times.

3:15 am Vigils
5:45 am Lauds
6:15 am Eucharist
7:30 am Terce
12:15 pm Sext (not on an iPhone)
2:15 pm None
5:30 pm Vespers
7:00 pm Rosary
7:30 pm Compline

Every two weeks, they’ve prayed through the entire book of psalms. This morning, at 3:15 am while I’m sleeping (hopefully), they’ll be praying, and they’ve been praying every 3:15 am of my life. For some reason I think this is a very cool thought. We could go to all of the prayers or none of the prayers and were free to participate as much or as little as we would like.

The monks work from 8-12 and have the afternoon off to pursue God in whatever way they feel called. Write, read, pray, contemplate… one monk is a photographer and sees his art as a form of contemplation and prayer.

The monastery has thousands of acres on one side for the monks to play in and thousands of acres on the other side for lay people visitors like me.


not-so-green pastures

Susanne led us on a contemplative prayer walk. In the Catholic spirit of confession, I should tell you that we cheated and did a little chit-chatting.

Reba, MD, and Jessie

Reba, MD, and Jessie

In one of the many woodland paths, there was a little prayer hut where people wrote prayers and stuck them to the wall. This was my favorite one:

please note that i did not write this note

please note that i did not write this note

Perhaps my favorite part of the weekend was talking to Brother Renee, the monk who worked at the front desk of the guest house.

i need a haircut

i need a haircut

He explained the rosary to me, read me some poems that he’d written, and told me stories from his past 60 years of monk living (he is in his eighties).  The way that he (and all of the monks) view visitors was very inspiring. St Benedict’s teaching of “treat every guest as if he were Christ” is not just a metaphor for them – they literally see visitors as Jesus in their midst. When I thanked him for reading his poems to me, he said “Of course I’m reading them to you right now, but in reading them to you I’m also reading them to Jesus.” When Carolyn talked to him at one point, he asked, “What do you think Jesus would say if I hit you with my cain right now?” Carolyn answered, “I don’t know.”  Brother R replied, “I think he’d say OUCH!”

Now, I ain’t about to convert to Catholicism or nothing (still don’t get this whole Mary deal), but I learned a lot and enjoyed the weekend muchos.

Anyway, on a more serious note, I uploaded pictures of Fred and I to babymaker.mauryshow.com to find out what our child would look like should science ever advance to the point where this would be possible. Good thing we don’t have this technology. Maurey named him Casper. I think he looks more like a Norbert.

Norbert Hasims

Norbert Hasims

Seasons Greetings,


P.S. Want to know more about monking? Check out monks.org.


~ by soleilsphere on February 25, 2010.

2 Responses to “Hoodlums in Kentucky”

  1. I find it slightly disturbing that the monks take a break out of their day at 12:15pm to do a little sexting… I hope you did not participate.

  2. I too went for a weekend of silence at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA. Loved hearing the Monks chant. The silence thing was good for me too and our group was diligent except for almost cracking up during dinners. In my family, they just seems to cry out for conversation. Anyway, I will speak to Carolyn about Brother R!
    Keep up the posts!

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