Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Abbey of Gethsemani

Another one of my favorite retreat places in the United States is the Abbey of Gethsemeni in Kentucky. This monastery is where Thomas Merton, the famous monk and writer lived. Merton was a prolific author, his most famous was his autobiography called A Seven Storey Mountain which sold thousands if not millions of copies.

The monastery is located not to far from Louisville, where the Merton Center is located. Gently rolling hills or knobs as they call them dot the land. Kentucky is bluegrass country and there is plenty of bluegrass around! The area around the monastery is very peaceful and you can take plenty of healthy walks, up and down those knobs!

The monastery is very quiet and peaceful. The monks keep a regular rule of prayer and liturgical services and guests are welcome to join in worship if they are able to do that. The rooms are simple and there is a library and quiet area for reading and rest. Meals are taken in the cafeteria and if I recall all meals are silent, which means, no talking. The only sound you'll hear are forks hitting plates and people sipping tea or coffee. There is also a large bookstore where the monks sell their famous cheese products, books, icons, and music.

If you want a semi-silent retreat or time away from the craziness plan a visit to the Abbey of Gethsameni. However you need to call in advance since they have literally thousands of pilgrims and retreat participants throughout the year.