Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Start, A New Book, A Monastic Interlude

Stone Chapel at Abbey of Newclairvaux


Today I started the first entry to a new book I will be writing throughout the year of 2014, Lord willing. For one year I have wished to start this book but life happened instead. Now it is time. The setting will be a place where monastics live in an abbey in northern California near the Vina Plains and in the small township of Vina. Twice or thrice weekly for twenty-two years I have driven north to Vina, some twenty miles, to attend another church--the one where I worship. For years I have wondered what lay down the drive to the monastery past its white cross at its entrance. Never, until this  day, have I ventured there.

Committing to this writing project is one that will come easily. I long for quiet times with God, to seek his still small voice in a setting away from the busyness that makes life frantic at times. After arriving, I walked around just a small area of the grounds. The Abbey of Newclairvaux is a working farm and winery. I know some about it for its activities are mentioned in the local newspaper and other publications. It is also the subject of a new book written by someone who is not of the faith. I have read and wondered. Today was a fulfillment of the thoughts. I found myself entering a strange excitement in the inner person the moment I turned into the winding driveway. The sense of peace was immediate.

I parked the car then walked to the Chapel Stones area. I sat and wrote. I walked to the Church area. I sat on wooden pews and wrote while contemplating in complete solitude, undisturbed, not even a visitor entered--and there were many visitors on the grounds. I retraced my steps to the white metal chair and began to write again. I took a few phone pics and then continued writing. I glanced up. A light beam shone through the chapel window toward me as if to touch me. A few minutes later it was at my feet. It almost seemed like a providential sign, I am with you in the writing of this book.
My notepad on my lap with the light shining at my feet.
An Excerpt
Entry One: January 3, 2014, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
The sun is stroking deep inside, warmth is penetrating. A day, like a spring sun-filled day, it is. My first visit here at the monastery. The chapel, with its ancient stones, gives me the shivers. Its unfinished state is the blend of the old with the new.
It is a new year and I have an awareness that this new year, 2014, will bring many gifts and many sorrows. They both make up our days, weeks, months, and years. I am in a peaceful state.

I hear many birds chirping, a tractor or fork-lift being driven. The sun is descending in the western sky. Its rays touch my face and warms my body. I hear visitors talking, their  sandles slap against the asphalt sidewalk. Voices carry through the air. It is a working farm yet peaceful. A group of students in a circle sit in the open entry of the west-side arches to the Chapel, their bodies facing the warmth of the sun. They talk quietly as I enter the room.

I find myself relaxing. The praying and praises to God were flowing from my mind the moment I stepped out of my car and still are flowing every second. So beautiful are you, Lord God. You speak in the quietness. I do love you, Lord.

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