I am hoe-ing my way to salvation. That’s a joke Brother Francis, the head gardener here would appreciate. The monks are quite a chatty bunch (so much for the silence). Honestly I am quite pleased. They laugh a lot too and are very fond of jokes. Every day guests are invited to do 3-4 hours of work. I opted for the garden and was told to weed, hoe and rake a 250 sq ft patch. Brother Francis pronounced my efforts ‘magnificent’ and rewarded me with a big glass of water. He also told me that the hardest bit about gardening here is sending out one of the brothers to buy panty hose, which they use to make plant tea (something about infusing organic fertilizer in panty hose ‘tea bags’).
Today I got up at 3.15am and walked alone through the canyon for vespers and discovered that I was one of only two guests who bothered to get up in the freezing cold. Among the 12 guests here there are several Catholic priests, a Mennonite minister and Brother Joseph a Franciscan monk. Joseph says Franciscans like to lead with the heart, whereas the Benedictine monks here lead with their heads. Franciscans also prefer to be out in nature or doing service rather than in church (He is no fan of all the liturgy he says ie all the wordy singing). So he hikes during the day rather than attend prayers, camps out (even on 20 degree days) and showed up here once wearing shorts under his robes. which maybe why we all got an email about ‘no shorts’. Think I might quite like being with the Franciscans.
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Glad to hear that you are among a festive group at the monastery. Perhaps that balances out the silence! As per your description, you definitely resonate with the Franciscans.