To the Editor: BG woman recalls visit with Trappist Monks
Written by Norma Davenport   
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 09:41
The Trappist Monks who live at the The Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky are in this world, but not of this world. These dedicated men remain a conundrum to me on many levels. During my first visit, I was obsessed with the question, "Why did you come?" After several attempts to seek an answer, I was finally satisfied with one of the resident's response: "It's not important why we come, but rather, it's more important why we stay." How profound!
My co-traveler and friend, Eleanor, has a relative, Father James, who has lived there for over 60 years. He came there shortly after graduating from high school in Oklahoma. I treasure my visits with Father James each evening in the "talking" dining room. Had he not been a priest, Father James could have passed for a favorite uncle, grandfather, or just a good friend who knows how to listen.
Much to Eleanor's chagrin, I will often ask Father James questions regarding religion, politics etc. Fortunately, this Abby's Chaplain takes my inquiries in stride with a twinkle in his eye. Eleanor, on the other hand, has slipped a little lower under the table to avoid eye contact with her inquisitive friend.
Did I have to travel over 500 miles to find silence, serenity and peaceful surroundings? Probably not, since I could have turned off my television/radio, sat in my backyard and enjoyed a lovely view. My bigger challenge, however, would be quieting my internal noise ... all the would-haves, could-haves, should-haves and other chatter that compete for my attention on a daily basis.
Did my third visit there change my life or convert me to Catholicism? The Abby has been hosting visitors since 1848 and welcomes people of many different faiths. My four-day retreat mostly confirmed and deepened my appreciation for interfaith dialogue.
Would I go back again? Yes, in a heartbeat. While I find silence compelling and instructive, I also have found that any opportunity to close my mouth and open my ears to be life altering.

Norma Davenport
Bowling Green

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