St. Clare Monastery: Day 1

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday I arrived at St. Clare Monastery. Sister Doris had called me while I was driving, to see if I wanted her to save the hot lunch they had prepared for me. Yes.

On my way to the monastery, I drove north on Winton, then cut west, then north on Daly Road. Daly cuts through Winton Woods Park, and goes past Parky’s Farm. When I hit the rolling hills, I remember: These are the hills my friend Melissa and I used for joyriding more than 20 years ago, fruitlessly gunning the engine of my parent’s Oldsmobile 88 in an effort to get more than two tons of car airborne. Back in the day! To be 17 again.

My parent’s Oldsmobile did catch some air once – but on Gray Road in Fairfield, not this winding park lane.

Now, at 43, I’m driving a car that’s just a bit younger and probably almost as heavy as that Olds, a ’97 Toyota Avalon. We’re cruising, with no plans for launching over the rippling hills. The park is just as beautiful as it’s always been. Since it was in the 60s and 70s until Christmas week, the hills are green even though it’s the first week of January.

When I pull in 15 minutes later, Sister Doris is waiting for me. She opens the door and greets me with a wide smile. “Welcome! You got here faster than I’d thought. Come on in. Here is your key, which opens this inner door. Your room is here, near the chapel. We have prayer every morning at 7:45, every day at noon and every evening at 4:45. Only come to prayer if you’d like to. The second key opens the door to your bedroom…”

My room was much more than a room. Coming to a monastery, I had expected austerity. Not so. In addition to my room, which has a full private bath, I have a living room with three large windows, a full *and* fully stocked kitchen, and more closet space than in my own home. Poking around after Lois leaves, I discover a washer and dryer in a hallway closet.

On a cart outside my door sits a hot meal of baked fish, green beans with French’s fried onions (the creamy kind you find on Thanksgiving tables, the best in the world IMO), a side salad with cherry tomatoes, a baked potato, and cookies.

I had told the sisters that I ate fish and eggs, but no other meat. How did they know French’s green beans were my favorite?

And since when did monasteries provide room service?

For a moment, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Which might be the idea, right? I’m here, as many visitors are, for rest. I’m also here in hopes that I’ll feel renewed and inspired.

I’m here to write, which I’m doing now on day two. 🙂 Tomorrow, I’ll start work on my screenplay, which I haven’t touched in three years.

The journey begins.


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