Visiting an Orthodox Monastery

A couple weeks ago, daughter and I brought our friends to visit the Orthodox monastery closest to our home. I’ve been to visit several times before and this was daughter’s second visit. It was such a joy to introduce our friends to this beautiful and holy place.

I had many intentions of bringing daughter her regularly, but I find it easy to make excuses not to visit. It’s such a long drive. We have a busy week this week. There aren’t good service times. I’m so grateful to have gotten past the excuses and made the journey. I never regret visiting the monastery.

We were able to attend the liturgy for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. The voices of the nuns are incredibly beautiful, and I loved to hear them even between bringing daughter in and out of the service (she’s still practicing patience. and quietness…).

After liturgy we had a delicious lunch prepared by the nuns–with cream for coffee and sweet red wine–a special treat for sure! I was so blessed to discover that “the first major activity of the monastery after prayer is hospitality”. When I was new to visiting monasteries, I sometimes thought that we were disturbing the nuns when we visited and that they were secretly wishing we would leave so they could get back to their real work. What a joy to know that hospitality is a calling for them–and one that I would do well to emulate in my home life!

One of the special things about visiting with a small one is the excuse to linger in the beautiful children’s garden. Our daughters and several other kiddos delighted in this special space. The nuns have decorated with many loose parts and icons related to children, nature, animals, church, and nuns. Daughter’s favorite was the large church set upon some rocks with miniature nuns to move about.

Leaving the monastery with a sense of peace and joy (a few items from the gift shop to bring back home) and inspiration for our own garden. So grateful we live close enough to a monastery and that daughter and I can receive blessings from Mother Gabriella and the other nuns. What about you–have you ever visited a monastery or thought about it? I so encourage you to take an opportunity to seek one out!

photo from http://www.dormitionmonastery.org
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