Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mepkin Abbey Day 3

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Mepkin Shop
Today I visited the shop which is also where you check in. There were items from many places and mostly handmade at other abbeys and monasteries. They also sell compost that my husband requested I purchase for our garden.

This building seems to be a favorite for the tree frogs, anoles, lizards and skinks. There was a tree frog amongst the bags of compost, an anole inside the umbrella that rested against the rail and the shop keeper mentioned that in the afternoon when the sun shines on the side of the building, the chameleons line up to sunbathe.

I feel rather settled in now. I enjoy my hours with the Lord in the mornings between breakfast and lunch and I look forward to my afternoons discovering more of the grounds and statuary. I have been amazed at how much is still blooming here and the appearance of so many palms is rather exotic.

© Donna L. Watkins - Luce Gardens at Mepkin Abbey
My stroll down to the Luce Gardens was lovely and the river views beyond it were magnificent. After clearing away the fallen magnolia flower cones from a spot under a tree, I sank into the earth, leaned back on the tree and watched the reflections on the water as the birds flew by. Sitting there beneath a magnolia on a plantation made me drift into lofty thoughts.

The immense live oaks seemed to be thousands of years old and their gnarled branches seemed to shout that they could tell lots of stories. According to local lore, the word "Mepkin" is of Native American origin. It means "serene and lovely." Was life on a plantation serene? Could it be called lovely for the slaves that worked the land?

© Donna L. Watkins - Carving in Fallen Live Oak
Yesterday I discovered a carving that somebody had done from the remains of a live oak that had passed away. It was of Joseph and Mary on a donkey with steps into it with a seat beside Mary.

Sculpture is amazing to me. What is it like to see something that could be brought to life out of a dead piece of wood? The artist's eye is surely a window to the soul of God.

Michelangelo looked at a piece of marble and saw more. He created such memorable works of art as the Pieta and David. He was also a painter, architect and poet.

Do you take time to appreciate art? Artists create for our inner enjoyment. There's a part of us that needs to come away from the left-brained work of each day, to find a whole new world of right-brain creations. I'm always surprised at what I discover about myself when I spend time amidst artistic works, so today I returned to sit in the seat that was carved into the tree behind the scene.

I visited the library and checked out a few books. Normally my agenda would be to read the entire book from cover to last page ... but somehow my mind was open to not being so methodical in my approach. I browsed the Contents and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me on what to read. It seems my demands upon myself are greatly lessened, and although a bit foreign, it feels really good.

I've always heard that sleep before midnight is worth twice of that after it. It sure works for me. The only part I miss is having my honey next to me and my kitty snuggled at my side. I don't know of a time in the past 30 years that Randal and I have not talked for an entire week so that in itself is quite an oddity. There is no internet available and we've managed to avoid cell phones.

Being in a place where life revolves around prayer and lifting voices to God ten times a day at the chapel, certainly brings a sense of deep insight into your own sins and need for repentance. There is a need for more retreat centers. Places where we have the time to search deep inside ourselves for the little sins that hide neatly tucked away in our daily lifestyles.

In these silent places we can come face-to-face with our Holy and Amazing God and allow Him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It makes me think of when I was a little child and my mom would bathe me and shampoo my hair and then tell me I was squeaky clean. Alone with God in such a setting, by the end of the week, I should be once again squeaky clean.

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

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