Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mepkin Abbey Day 2

by Donna L. Watkins


© Donna L. Watkins - Mepkin Abbey Chapel
Breakfast was served at 6 AM. Meals were very simple which I enjoyed since I'm not much into food at home. The odd thing was that with the silence, I found that I couldn't eat without hearing myself swallow. Something I'd never noticed before while eating.

Not having any Catholic background or experience, I didn't take the option that guests have to participate in the choir section for the services. I felt I could enjoy the experience more from the pews. I didn't want to be trying to "figure it all out" by participating. I just enjoyed the rhythm of it all and the smell of the incense which made chapel time a distinctive part of the day.

© Donna L. Watkins - Mepkin Garden Path
Today became a process of establishing what my rhythm would be on this retreat. The grounds were extensive and I wanted to do a lot of walking since God's Creation is what calls my heart to Him, but today was very cold, so I stayed between my room and the main area which was only 1/3 mile away.

I am excited about all the walking I'll be doing since I still wear my step counter to remind me to make my weekly walking goal.

There were beautiful trees, plants, flowers, birds and critters to photograph for my Mepkin photo album in the warmer afternoon. I discovered some ponds that were colored deep turquoise blue. It seemed to be colored with dye. There was much to discover on this beautiful estate.

The 3000 acre Mepkin tract was first recorded in 1681, in the name of Sir John Colleton, one of the original Lords Proprietors of the Carolinas.

© Donna L. Watkins - Wren At Mepkin
In 1762 the French Huguenot merchant Henry Laurens (1724-1792) acquired it from the great-grandson of Sir John. It was one of many plantations that Laurens owned but this property on the west branch of the Cooper River had a special place in his affections. It was a flourishing rice plantation and after the American Revolutionary War, Laurens retired to Mepkin, and there he died and was buried in the family cemetery.

The plantation passed through several hands until 1936 when publisher and philanthropist, Henry R. Luce, and his wife, Clare Boothe Luce acquired it. In 1949 a major portion of the property was donated to the Trappist monks of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky in order to establish this Abbey of Our Lady of Mepkin.

I am in awe of people being able to commit themselves to this kind of discipline and what the world might call monotony. Besides brief uneventful meal times and some work hours, the days of the monks are punctuated by chapel time with the bells tolling and tinkling calling them back together to commune with our God. It puts a whole new definition to the word 'simplicity'.

View entire Mepkin Abbey photo album.
Mepkin Abbey - Day Three.

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