As my sister and I wandered through the gardens and, later, participated in a guided tour led by Father Guerric, I was struck by the peace, quietness, and reverence that suffuse the grounds. The monks lead a simple, structured life and are dedicated to purposeful prayer and scriptural study. Their day begins at 3 a.m., when they rise for the first prayers of the day, and they retire at 8 p.m. Daily labor is an important part of abbey life, and the monks grow and harvest oyster mushrooms to help support the community, and also cultivate and maintain their beautiful grounds. It is a peaceful, disciplined lifestyle that is fostered by prayer, service, and community.
Just one of the many beautiful live oaks on the property.
Driving home from Charleston on Monday, I was still filled with the peace and purposeful atmosphere of Mepkin Abbey. I intend to hold tight to this peace, and infuse it somehow into my hurried, crazy (but happy) life—but I know that this will require some effort on my part. As a writer, I am learning to devote sections of my day ONLY to writing, despite the other duties that are constantly calling me away (like the basket of folded laundry waiting to be put away right now!). And I have intentionally taken on volunteer and church duties that genuinely bring me joy as I “work,” so maybe I am on the right track. But I know that I can do better, and intentionally structure my day and my time so that I am fully present and focused while writing (or whatever task I am doing), and not distracted by the many other duties waiting for my attention. My visit to Mepkin Abbey has reminded me that you don’t necessarily have to live in an abbey or mission house to live purposefully; I am thankful for this reminder, and so blessed to have visited such a beautiful, peaceful place!
One of the many statues on the property.
Mepkin Abbey has an online store with many wonderful items for purchase, including their dried oyster mushrooms and many jams and honeys produced on their grounds. The abbey also has Guest Houses available for spiritual retreats. For more information about Mepkin Abbey, visit: http://mepkinabbey.org/wordpress/.