Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mepkin Abbey Day 5

by Donna L. Watkins

My room is one of four in a manufactured home. Today the other three people left since they were scheduled for a 5 day retreat rather than 7. Odd what comfort they brought. In the silence and distance from the main complex, I guess it was nice to know there was somebody out there.

Jack was checking in at the same time I did and since he had been here numerous times, the Guestmaster asked him to give me a tour of the buildings. It was nice to have a human connection within the silent abbey grounds.

Chuck and John arrived together having been friends for a long time and also having been here before. Chuck admitted he was challenged with the silent role. The first evening after chapel, I was walking back to my room on the road in the dark. It's a 1/3 mile from the dining area, in a field at the edge of some woods. With no light pollution, the stars look so bright against a deep sky.

Jack had told me to take a flashlight, but my husband says I'm part cat because I see so well in the dark, so I wasn't using it. I could see the light-colored sandy gravel of the road. Suddenly ahead there were two headlights, but they wiggling so I thought the monks were riding their bicycles. But no, it was two people with flashlights. It was Chuck and John. Knowing I was a newbie, they were concerned that I had gotten lost on the way from the chapel and came to look for me.

What a picture of God's provision and protection. It was nice to have the visual gift of knowing that God was watching over me. I knew Randal would be smiling about John and Chuck. He loves playing the Shining Knight role whenever he can, even though he's never owned a horse. So he will appreciate knowing there are other knights out there too. Maybe there should be a round table for them to get together.

Since check-out time is at 9 AM, it was very quiet today. The weekend retreat folks wouldn't arrive till afternoon, so even the grounds seemed empty and there seemed to be an even greater silence today. The monks observe a partial fast day so I didn't even see any of them out and about. I spent a lot of time walking the grounds today and sitting in various spots. I'm still looking for the alligators that are supposed to be in the ponds.

© Donna L. Watkins - Favorite Spot By Cooper River
My favorite spot today was on a bench down by the Cooper River. They say there's alligators in the river also. There were plenty of water birds to watch. The river was moving along and when you sit and watch that it feels like your soul and spirit gets washed as it drifts downstream also.

There were clumps of water hyacinth in the river. A plant that is causing great havoc in waterways in the south since it doesn't die off like it does up north. Just as I'd figured out what those clumps were, I saw one the size of a small island appear in front of me and then I saw a regal heron prancing across it. I had to laugh out loud. It looked so comical. I wanted to title it Heron Barge but somehow barge didn't go with the picture. It was more like a parade float with the princess waving from it. As it continued down the river, I wondered if it knew where it was going.

It was a beautiful and warm day so I just kept on walking. I set a record with my step counter that Randal bought me for my birthday in September. I had 12,314 steps. With my stride, it takes 3000 for a mile. That's one reason I like the location of my room. I've got the longest walk of any of the retreat homes and I like that.

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

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