stillness (reprise)

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. (Eccles. 3:11 KJV)

Recently I was given the opportunity (excuse) to head down South again to the Women’s Monastery. By excuse, one of the Nun’s was sewing me a Riassa, and it needed a final measurement. Furthermore, my wife and I were in need of a bit of an escape and a hunt for stillness.

We left early Saturday morning and drove with fewer stops than our normal yearly pilgrimage to the monastery with the children from Church (amazing how the reduction in convoy helps to remove strings from the journey) and arrived just after lunch. While still a little sloppy underfoot from recent heavy rain, the weather had played nice for us although a little cold.

The Nun’s held a readers vigil service the night we stayed and Father Marcarius from the nearby (about an hour, that is near in country Australia) men’s monastery to serve liturgy in the morning. While the small chapel does play some havoc with liturgical logistics it is always a joy to serve there (out of the twice I have served since being ordained). Fr Mac is not used to serving with a Deacon, which for once made me feel a little less anxious than normal.

After the Liturgy we ate together and had calming discussions. Afterwards my wife and I drove with the Abbess up to the site of where their new cells are being built to see the progress of building works. I think I wore her patience a little thin while up on the top of the hill with continuous commentary of “can you hear that! – NOTHING”.

It is the perfect space for absorbing the stillness of God’s creation and it was a pity to have to hop in the car and head back. On the way home we remarked about how we really just “went to church this weekend – just that we drove a little further and stayed overnight”. While not possible very often we hope to do this a few times a year, in addition to our trip with the Church Kids.

These monastic communities are treasure beyond the beauty of their tranquil locations, groups of Christians devoting their lives to prayer and worship in the great monastic traditions. We should all desire to find our place of solitude to visit occasionally and support the  prayer and life that these soldiers for Christ fulfil.