07 November 2012

I lift my eyes up to the mountains (retreat day 2)

Oh look at that, brave souls! Checking out day 2 of our retreat after such a long post about day 1!

Our second day in Co. Down began at a monastery. Yes, cathedrals and monks aside: I promise we're still a part of the PC(USA)! Doug is good to remind us that sometimes, while working day-to-day in a congregation, it is helpful to experience other traditions to remind ourselves to take a break and experience the Divine amid our daily struggles.

So yeah, back to the monks. They welcomed us for a question-and-answer session before their daily Eucharist service. This was definitely my first conversation with a monk, and Brother Thierry was very kind and patient with all of my questions. We learned about their daily life, the Call that brought them from France to Northern Ireland, and the long journey from arriving in the country in 1998 to opening their monastery in 2004.

That square of buildings in the middle is the monastery
And then there was the service. Oh my goodness, the chanting. It was phenomenal. I just closed my eyes and soaked it all in.

BONUS! in searching their website for photos (since I didn't take any), I just found a webcam. These are some awesome monks. Check back at one of their times of prayer!

That afternoon was slated for the infamous YAV hike. Apparently some of the others had heard stories of grueling treks and lost volunteers in prior years, so I went into this experience with a full water bottle, lots of layers and my brand-new hiking shoes (I learned after our Cave Hill excursion that I liked hiking, but my existing shoes were not appropriate for the task).

We climbed to the famous Mourne Wall, and the view on the other side was beautiful. It is no surprise that this view inspired C.S. Lewis to write the Chronicles of Narnia!

After all the hype, no one was lost and the trail wasn't that steep... but OH, WAS IT MUDDY. After the initial shock of dirtying my pretty new shoes wore off, I marched into puddles with abandon. Which came back to bite me when I accidentally stepped into a "puddle" that swallowed me up to my hip - oops! It was pretty hilarious, and I thank God for waterproof trousers and Gore-Tex boots!


  1. sounds like an amazing time and looks like You are finding God everywhere.

  2. Time with the Monks sounds so interesting. And you like hiking--neat. Sounds like a great time.