Yesterday my friend Darrell and I went to Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Trappist Monastery in Conyers, GA, about 25 miles southeast of Atlanta. It’s a big, wonderful, relaxing place where silence is the most salient feature and hints of Divine Presence lurk just about everywhere one looks. We gave ourselves generous helpings of time in the large church, walking along the lake, and in the lovely Guadalupe Chapel tucked in an out of the way corner of the crypt. And of course, lots of time poking through the bookstore as well.
We also sat in on the monastery’s orientation film and subsequent Q&A session. About 20 Catholic School kids were in the audience, along with various teachers and other field trip wardens. The monk on display was a spritely nonagenarian named Father Malachy who despite a hearing aid and a shuffle to his walk seemed much healthier than my parents, ten years his junior. One of the kids asked him how his life would be different if he hadn’t become a monk. He flashed a huge smile and said, “Well, I wouldn’t be standing here right now, would I?”
For those who might share my interest in this fascinating world, here are a few opportunities to learn Centering Prayer, a contemporary method of Christian meditation that was developed by two Trappist monks, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating. A day long event will take place on October 22 at the Monastery (cost: $15), and an introductory workshop on the practice will occur on January 13-15. If you already have some training in Centering Prayer, you might also consider the advanced workshop on February 10-12, which will be taught by noted author Cynthia Bourgeault. The suggested donation for these weekend events is (sliding scale) $120-$200. For more information about these events, leave a comment here or contact the monastery at firstname.lastname@example.org.