I am writing this blog while I am sitting in a library. Which isn’t an unusual thing for me, I love libraries. What is unusual is where the library is. The library I am sitting in is in Holy Cross Monastery. There are no voices to be heard because it is after 9:00pm – the Great Silence has begun. Until 8:30 tomorrow morning there will not be idle chatter or cell phone calls or deep conversations. In the morning, there will be bells tolling, monks chanting, and delicious food being served at breakfast. Holy Cross Monastery is a beautiful 110-year-old monastery overlooking the Hudson River. It is situated right across the river from the Vanderbilt Mansion. There is a certain feel of the building and the big black doors that remind me of my fifth grade field trip to the cloisters in NYC. The chanting of the monks also reminds me of visiting the market and the cathedral in Chester. Chester is a walled city in the north of England. My mother’s hometown is Chester, England. The summer between my fifth and sixth grade year I would spend 6 weeks in England visiting my grandfather, great-grandmother and my “cool” uncle. My “cool” uncle was only 10 years older than me. He was into popular music and “cool” stuff. Once when he visited my hometown of Waldwick, NJ he was mistaken for one of the Beatles. He was the right age, had the hair cut and the accent but he wasn’t John, Paul, George or Ringo. He was actually chased down our street by a group of young teens. My cool rating went up.
My dad would join us in England for 2 of the 6 weeks. My dad loves history so while he was in England we would visit “every castle in the whole country” or so it seemed to a 12-year-old girl. My dad would read all those little signs on items in museums and cathedrals and castles. It would make me crazy but now I get it. As my dad always said,”travel is wasted on the young”. I am grateful for those experiences but I didn’t appreciate the significance of them at the time.
I was also reminded today of another experience that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. While sitting on the porch today sipping coffee with a fellow workshop attendee, I realized her coffee cup said “Desmond Tutu”. Years ago, a friend and I preformed a liturgical dance at a service in the Newark Cathedral. Reverend Desmond Tutu was the keynote speaker. It amazes me that I had that opportunity. Just wish I had appreciated it at the time.
In case you are wondering why I am at a monastery. I am attending a writers workshop. Actually I am hanging out with some terrific people who someday I will be able to say “oh I knew __________ before they were the best-selling author. We were at a workshop together”