Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The most obvious intent in making a retreat to a Trappist monastery is to share in the life of this community of devoted servants of God. There are numerous opportunities to worship with them at services named: Vigils, Lauds, Mass, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. But just as rewarding is the chance to some spend time in nature.

The grounds of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani are a blessing. Just across the highway from the Abbey and Retreat House lie undulating hills and woods with numerous winding paths that call us to explore. On the first day of my retreat, I found myself taking steps toward this land. Although this was my third trip to Kentucky and the monastery, this was my first experience in early spring.

Fields, bushes and trees were in various states of bloom, showing off colors not seen at other times of the year. Mesmerized, I carried on along a path until I sensed a small body of water – a pond. I made my way through some higher grasses and came upon a beautiful body of water. Just as I moved the last blocking branch of a bush from my line of sight, I saw a blue heron take flight from the surface of the pond. Its long neck and graceful wings reminded me of a ballet dancer. I felt a sense of gratitude for having witnessed such beauty.

A simple smile crossed my face.

I turned around and headed back to the Abbey as there was a service of Sext due to begin in about 25 minutes. I don’t remember much of that walk as I felt surrounded by a sense of beauty and belonging. I realized that it had been some time since I’d allowed myself to relax enough to see the real world around me.

I entered the shadowed Abbey and sat in silence prior to the service. One by one, each of the monks slowly entered and blessed themselves with water from the holy font. I closed my eyes and recalled the sight of the heron taking flight. Suddenly it occurred to me that this gift was not intended for me alone. Each day, scenes like this occur whether I am there to witness them or not.

A simple tear of joy fell from one eye.

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