Sunday, October 14, 2007

Get thee to a Monastery

The city that we live in is at the very outer edge of what can be described as a metropolitan area. It is only in recent years that it started to become "suburban" with new construction popping up all around the few structures that were already there. The "country." So we have these recent subdivisions all mixed in with cottages and some formerly secluded properties such as the Dominican Sisters Motherhouse that I have mentioned before. It is actually a campus of buildings that consists of an old mansion facing a small lake with a darling white glassed in gazebo, a daycare/preschool, several structures for retreats and offices, a small cemetery, the giving garden, and a main structure that is newer which is really a nursing home for nuns and a chapel that is open to the public for mass on Sundays. There used to be an old abandoned mental hospital on some property in the back and I when I would ride my bike around there I'd get a creepy feeling. Then they sold that property and ripped it down and built luxury homes where it used to be. (Do they know?) We often attend mass at the chapel and I get to see the nuns. Mainly they are extremely elderly but there are a few "younger" ones (in their 60s) who always impress me as sort of strong yet gentle women in incredibly comfortable looking shoes.

Several miles east down the same road is a Benedictine Monastery. The road is dirt and it goes up a hill where the land is still mainly undeveloped, very beautiful area. On my more ambitious bike rides I used to go past the entrance and wonder about it. You can only see the sign and a driveway through the woods from the road. I always wanted to make a lot of noise when I drove by, break that vow of silence, but I didn't.

Then recently I found out that they have mass there that the public can attend. A chance to satisfy my curiosity! I have this fascination about monks, and it's not from reading The Mermaid Chair in book club. Really. I just wonder what they're all about.

So today we went there and I got to take these pictures so I could share them with you. It would have been a great place for viewing the fall colors except for that the odd weather we've had has made for a dud of a color season so far. The property sits upon the highest point in Oakland county, and the view from the chapel is incredible. It is nothing like I expected. I guess I thought it would be dark and gothic and made of crumbling stone. The architecture is very unusual and it seems relatively new.

The monks were there, there are only about 1/2 dozen of them, and they look like normal men. They were wearing black robes with hoods, but they had normal dress shoes on with them, not ropey sandals. Apparently they spend their time in this beautiful place tending to their large garden, playing with their 2 large dogs, doing art, writing poetry, and praying. It sounds lovely, doesn't it. Oh! And they make jam and salad dressing. I know this because it was there in THE GIFT SHOP!!! Yes, there really is a gift shop there. Now you know too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mindy- That salad dressing and jam from the good brothers at the monastary would make good gifts, hint hint. Have you ever bought thimbleberry jam from the monks in the U.P. near Iron Mountain? I regret that I didn't, as we were so pressed for time when I saw it. You certainly live in a lovely, interesting area. Aren't you curious where the famous nudist colony is? And where exactly is the best cross country skiing area in Michigan that is supposed to be in Oxford? Hope it isn't in the nudist colony, ha ha. love, Aunt Chris ps- I read Mermaid Chair, too. Her "Secret Life of Bees" was better, I believe.