Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Entering the silence of Genesee
This past weekend I made a private retreat at the Trappist Abbey of the Genesee in western New York. I thought I would share some of the photos and details of that special journey. I'll begin the current post here and continue it at my own blog, Not Strictly Spiritual.
By Mary DeTurris Poust
I returned late yesterday from my private weekend retreat at the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, N.Y., where I was privileged and blessed to pray the Divine Office and attend Mass with the Cistercian monks who call this abbey home. To be honest, I'm not yet to the point where I'm ready to ramble on and on about my spiritual experience. Silent retreats are like that, at least for me. I want to hold onto that spirit of silence for as long as I can, even in the midst of the chaos of normal life. Right now, spending too much time trying to write my experience when I'm still trying to absorb it all would somehow corrupt the beauty of what happened there. And so much of what happened there is invisible, indescribable and still unknown to me. So I'll try to tell you a bit about the retreat in pictures and descriptions, and then throughout the week I'll be back with reflections and observations.
The photo above is a shot of the front of the abbey, which is a beautiful stone and wood structure where the monks graciously welcome visitors to join them in prayer. The abbey was founded from the famed Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani and is the location written about by Henri Nouwen in The Genesee Diary.
I arrived on Friday afternoon and got my first taste of monastic prayer when I attended Vespers at 4:30 p.m. When you walk into the front door of the abbey, you can turn right to go to the bookstore, bread store (more on that another time) and sitting area where you can rest and look out at the magnificent view. If you turn left, you go down the hallway seen in the photo to the left. This leads to the chapel. Strict silence must be observed once you enter the hallway. Through those doors is the beautiful chapel, with its wood ceiling and stone walls.
Inside the chapel, guests are invited to sit in the stalls facing the monks, separated by a low iron gate. The circular altar is in the center. What a gift to be allowed into this space...continue reading HERE.
Posted by Mary DeTurris Poust at 9:39 AM