This weekend, in congruence with my unintentional plan to be gone every stinkin weekend...I went to a monastery with my Church History class. Yep. You read that right.
Saturday morning at 7:45am, we met outside the religion building to set off on our jouney. We split up into 2 vans: Dr. Bell's van and the Party Van(<<--my obvious choice). Our group was comprised of 15 students, Dr. Bell, Jacquie (our teaching assistant) and David (Dr. Bell's 18yearold son). It was quite an adventure!
Dr. Bell's van passed the 3+ hours by playing Theologian Bingo and holding a Fantasy Theology Draft. The Party Van [me, Will, Stephanie, Bennett, Michelle, Mark, David, Jessica, and Juli] passed the time by getting to know one another through listing all of our favorite things. :) I learned A LOT about my classmates. Mostly stuff about my accountabilibuddy, Will, but some about my other van-mates too.
When we arrived in Bardstown, Kentucky (ironically the bourbon capital of the world...), we parked and split up for lunch. Rest assured that Mexican food is pretty much the same everywhere you go. Our server, Victor, made our experience though.
We were supposed to be at the monastery by 2:15 for "None", the 5th prayer time of the day. We got there a little early, so we spent some time in the gift shop. [yes they have a gift shop. they also make fudge and cheese. visit www.monks.org for more info. no lie.] I recently went to "Night Prayers" at a local convent with my friend Nathan, and I am so glad that I did! I at least knew a little of what to expect when we got to the monastery.
After "None", we watched an informational video about The Abbey at Gethsemani, and then an 80+ year old monk named Brother Renee who had been at the abbey for 60 years told us a little about his experience. He was the most precious little man! He also had some valuable information to share with us. He told us the story of when he first came to the abbey. He went in to visit with his abbot one day, and the abbot said: "There are only two people here: You and Jesus." Brother Renee said he had found this to be true no matter where he was! He asked us what Jesus would say if he hit any of us with his cane. [hahaha] After answers of "stop." "don't do that." and "please don't do that again.", he told us Jesus would say "Ouch." Think about that for a second...
Brother Renee was making the point that Jesus told us whatever we do, we should do it unto Him. So he sees everyone as Jesus, especially since Christians are all part of one body of Christ. He treats everyone like he would treat Jesus. I love this. So so wise. He read us some of the things he had written about their beliefs and his personal experience, and we enjoyed our time with him very much!
After that, we still had about an hour before "Vespers" at 5:30, so we went on a hike...when I say "hike" I mean "run" because Dr. Bell is over a foot taller than me and moves briskly through the woods. haha. He took us to see these statues on the property that were donated to the abbey. They were statues of Jesus and His 3 besties: Peter, James and John in the Garden of Gethsemani. The disciples were depicted as being asleep about 50 yards from where Jesus was praying in anguish. It was a beautiful depiction and well worth the out of breath-ness it took me to get there.
We went to Vespers, and it seemed significantly longer than None...mostly because all of us were quite hungry and praying our stomachs wouldn't growl loudly during the periods of silence. :)
Luckily, our next move was back into town to check into the hotel and then onward to dinner. A group of us ate at the Old Talbott Tavern which apparently has tons of history. Just ask their informative pamphlet. haha. The food was amazing, and Tyler and I made friends with our server, "Biz". [it's short for Elizabeth. cute, right?] Then we went back to the hotel where about 15 of us gathered in my room for "BEYOND BALDERDASH". I'll be purchasing this game soon. It's stinkin' fun! Mark and Jessica won but only because it's a "Dusing Family Tradition" and Mark has played tons and tons of times. Andrew Hill and I made up quite a team, and were most excited about our team name: AlAn. :) Get it??
After some much needed rest, we checked out of the hotel around 10am and headed for Mass at the monastery. We went in after everyone else because Dr. Bell likes to sit in the monks' stalls when he's there. ;) Those wooden seats are pretty hard, but they encourage good posture. Mass was a wonderful experience and the homily [which is the sermon portion] was really great!
After Mass, Dr. Bell has arranged for us to have lunch at a place called the Kurtz Restaurant. It was a home-cookin' place right across the street from Stephen Foster's "Old Kentucky Home". [google it.] My grandmother would be disappointed to know that I was so close and didn't get to go visit. :( I'll have to go back. Lunch was delicious and overly filling. We definitely enjoyed the conversation and even sang Happy Birthday to my friends Nathan who turned 23 today, and Aaron whose birthday was yesterday.
Then we headed home. Most of us tried to sleep to no avail. Sometimes there's just no good way to sleep in a van unless you cuddle with your seat neighbors. We got to know each other better, but not that good!
Overall, it was an unexpectedly wonderful experience! I am so glad to know the people who went with me. We're all looking forward to the class more now. We said we wished the trip had happened sooner since we all enjoy each other's company so much! Class will be more fun now...not that church history isn't buckets of fun already... ;)
At this particular moment, I'm fighting my tiredness by heading to Bongo to eat/drink caffiene with Heather. Then it's on to AST's weekly meeting. In the morning I get to see Katherine Jones Wallace when we have breakfast at Crema!!!! So excited about her being in town and getting to see her!!!!
In the words of the monks: "Thanks be to God."
"May the peace of the Lord be with you..."