You Are Here to Kneel [sharing at Art House America blog]

 our walk back to the guesthouse after our make-do morning prayers

our walk back to the guesthouse after our make-do morning prayers

We arrive at the monastery in County Limerick around 3:00 p.m. By 7:00 p.m., I’m scolded by Father Donovan — twice. By 7:15 p.m., I’m on my single bed, sobbing to my husband across the room on his single bed. I am ready to leave.

Our family and friends gave us this month in Ireland as a second honeymoon in celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. The gift covered about three weeks, but we knew we needed a full month. Our twenty-fifth year of marriage just about knocked us out with emotional, physical, and spiritual demands, and we were drained. We decided to extend the trip to one month, devoting the additional week to a more traditional sabbatical — the Daily Office, study, contemplation, and silence. In my search for a place to retreat, I discovered this ninety-year-old Benedictine community living behind the replicated walls of a twelfth-century castle on the southwest coast of Ireland. They had a room available the week we needed it, and they met our budget (pay what you can).

It felt a bit risky to make the reservation since we are not monastics, nor are we Roman Catholic. We decided to take seriously the reputation of Benedictine hospitality and hope they'd welcome two married American Protestants. I didn’t think about the risk again until we hustled toward the guesthouse doors, weighed down by luggage and high expectations.  

We were locked out, but the woman behind the main desk in the reception building assured us that Father Donovan would meet us there. She rang him up to be certain. As for getting into the acclaimed icon chapel, that would be Father Donovan we'd to see as well. So when Father Donovan answered the doorbell, my face was practically pressed up against the glass door. I was impatient for answers to my questions and words for my prayers. The monk did not hasten his gait toward the door. He opened it halfway to us, asked us who we were, and paused, as if evaluating our sincerity.  read the whole story at Art House America blog

Bonus feature: a few more monastery photos

 the white bench inside a walled garden where Brian and I prayed each morning for our new church parish

the white bench inside a walled garden where Brian and I prayed each morning for our new church parish

 the fountain in the center of our "prayer garden"

the fountain in the center of our "prayer garden"

  I helped make this jam from the currants Father "Donovan" picked each day

 I helped make this jam from the currants Father "Donovan" picked each day

 the highly inconvenient prayer kneeler in our room

the highly inconvenient prayer kneeler in our room