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Our Lady Of The Rock Benedictine Monastery

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nunsense
[u][b]Our Lady of the Rock Benedictine Monastery[/b][/u]

I am going to post three parts to my visit. The first will be about the monastery, the second about what happened, and the third about what I felt. It is a very long story but it has taken five years to get to it. My camera was acting up, so there are few photos and since the nuns asked that they not be photographed without permission, I didn’t take any photos of them, and any I post have been taken by others and posted online before.

[img]http://i860.photobucket.com/albums/ab166/nunsense/IMG_3806.jpg[/img]
[i]The front door to the chapel.[/i]


[b][i]About the Monastery[/i][/b]

Our Lady of the Rock (Ancient Observance) is a monastery of Benedictine nuns who live on Shaw Island in Washington State and follow the ancient observance (meaning mainly that they recite the Office in Latin and pray all eight Hours (including Prime). They are a foundation of Regina Laudis Abbey in Connecticut, and have been established as a Priory. They wear traditional habits and rise in the middle of the night to pray Matins. Their Mass is the Novus Ordo using both English and Latin, which is chanted by the nuns, but as they don’t currently have a resident chaplain, during the week they offer a Communion service instead of Mass. They are waiting for another priest to be assigned to them by their Bishop. There are currently eight solemnly professed nuns at the monastery although they occasionally have nuns from Regina Laudis to live with them or a nun from Our Lady of the Rock will go spend time at Regina Laudis as the Abbey and Priory are still very much connected. Novices used to spend two years at Regina Laudis for formation but they now do this at OLotR with a visit to Regina Laudis prior to profession.

The main apostolate of these Benedictine nuns is the Divine Office and their farm (following the Bendictine motto of Ora et Labora), and hospitality, which is expressed through their very comfortable guest facilities. They live on a 300 acre farm and specialize in raw milk as well as llama, alpaca and Cottswold sheep wool and a variety of small products such as mustard, herbal teas, and spices. In their gift shop, they also offer other handmade products that have been donated to them for fundraising, such as jewelry, woolen hats and chocolate covered toffee.

[img]http://i860.photobucket.com/albums/ab166/nunsense/IMG_3799.jpg[/img]
[i]The view from my bedroom window the day I arrived[/i].

Guests to the monastery are welcome to join the nuns in the chapel for most of the Hours of the Divine Office, excluding Matins and Sext/None. Lauds/Prime and Vespers/Compline are offered in the chapel every day and Sext/None on Sundays only. Books are provided to follow the Office as the nuns chant.

The nuns run a ‘land-care’ program where one can stay with them from 4 months to a year as an Intern, learning about land-care, farming, raising animals and/or craft skills such as spinning, carding and weaving, making mustard and herbal teas and spices. They will also offer instruction in Latin and Gregorian chant. They also welcome short term guests (of all faiths or none) who need some quiet time or who just want to take a break from their life. During my stay there, we had five women visiting and three men, all for different amounts of time. The women came for various reasons from just wanting a break, to wanting experience on a farm and the men came to help out with handyman projects around the farm. Some attended services in the chapel and some did not.

The main access to Shaw Island is via ferry, and there are less than 200 residents on the island, many who only live there in the summer time. During the summer, there are many visitors as Shaw is part of the San Juan Islands, a tourist attraction for the area. There are no businesses or accommodation facilities on the island apart from a local shop with limited opening hours, the local residents and of course, the monastery. Visitors are expected to help with the farm work or contribute in some other way during their stay and donations are welcome. All meals are provided by the nuns, and guests are responsible for clean-up after meals. There is a small schoolhouse, a library and a community center on the Island. The countryside is a mixture of forest and farmland and is home to many birds and wildlife. The beauty of the island is inspiring, and it is a wonderful place to take long walks.

Although the monastery has an enclosure wall, the nuns consider that the whole island is part of their enclosure. Guests are allowed in most areas of the farm but no one is allowed to go inside the enclosure wall unless necessary (the music room and nuns’ library are there and we were allowed to go to these areas, and also outside the kitchen door to collect meals) but the nuns are often found outside the enclosure for shopping, veterinarian, doctor, etc, and as hospitality is a big part of their charism, they will also come down to the guest houses to see the guests and to work with 4-H kids or other groups. One nun has a catechism class on another island and one nun teaches music to a couple of people on the island.

[img]http://i860.photobucket.com/albums/ab166/nunsense/MFel_smile_playing_1108.jpg[/img]
[i]Mother Felicitas teaches violin and singing[/i]

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nunsense
[b][i]Personal experiences[/i][/b]

My flight arrived in Seattle during a snowstorm, just before the airport was closed. I spent the night in a hotel and the next day I caught the hotel shuttle to the airport again, where I picked up the Airport Shuttle bus to the Anacortes ferry terminal. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get out to Shaw Island in such bad weather so I allowed an extra hour for travel time to the Island. Even though the roads were snowy and icy, and it took an hour longer than usual, we finally arrived at the ferry terminal, where I had a short wait before the Shaw Island ferry arrived. It took about an hour to get to Shaw Island, with one stop at Lopez Island on the way.

I was met at the Shaw Island terminal by two of the Monastery guests, one has been there since October, helping out around the place, and the other is currently a land-care Intern who has been there for one month and will be staying for another three months. They took me to the guest house and at that time there were two men and two women guests on the property, the two men were staying in the chaplain’s house, called St Scholastica’s and we two women were staying in another house called St Joseph’s. My housemate was doing the Intern program. During the course of my 2 ½ week stay, various other guests came and went, for different amounts of time, all of them helping out on the farm in some way while they were there. It was a very rich experience for me to meet each of these people, some who had known the nuns for years and been regular guests, and others who had never visited before and who had just ‘heard’ about them. At one point there were eight of us around the dinner table, and it seemed such a ‘family experience’.


[img]http://i860.photobucket.com/albums/ab166/nunsense/IMG_3810.jpg[/img] [i]Similar view as the bedroom window one two days later, when snow had melted.[/i]

During my stay, I met with all of the nuns, different amounts of time with each one of them, some more and some less. I was busy on the day that the Intern was learning to spin wool, but on another day, I did learn how to card it and was shown the looms for weaving. Shearing doesn’t begin until the spring, so they are not doing much spinning and weaving right now, but it was fun to learn it. I also helped to make mustard, but had to leave my batch behind as it needed time before it could be put into jars, so I bought another one from the gift shop to take home! I also bought some herbal tea (a lovely flavour with mint in it as well) as well as some curry for my sister. I bought two skeins of Cottswold sheep wool to make a pair of bad socks for my sister’s birthday.

The Intern and I had classes in Gregorian chant, and were even taught to sing rounds in Latin, which was very funny as we tried to remember not only the Latin words and the tune, but also to keep our own part of the round while the other two were singing theirs! Lots of laughter as the Intern and I stumbled over it time and again. Once, we did sing one of the rounds perfectly and it was so sweet when we got to the end and we were all singing the same verse on key and in tune! I only hope I remember it when I get home. I bought a CD/book called Master Class in Gregorian Chant, which I couldn’t buy from the Regina Laudis online store because they don’t ship to Australia, and the music nun told me it would be a great help to me for practice on my own. The Intern and I attended as many of the Hours as we could, and we both really loved the Office, especially on Sundays, when the chants were so rich. I asked the Intern if religious life was a possibility for her future and she told me that it wasn’t out of the question but as she is still in her early twenties, she felt she needed to experience life a little more before making that choice. For now she is focusing on learning farming and she hopes to be able to visit Regina Laudis as well sometime in the future. She and I watched a video called The coagulated milk Nun which is about one of the nuns at Regina Laudis who did her doctorate in the microbiology of coagulated milk and then won a Fulbright Scholarship to visit France and research their cheeses over there. It was a fascinating video, and I especially like the parts that showed the Abbey.

The guest house has a library of books to borrow and read, and I just devoured them. While there I read [b]The Intentional Life: The Making of a Spiritual Vocation[/b] by Cardinal Hume [url="http://www.amazon.com/Intentional-Life-Making-Spiritual-Vocation/dp/1557253269"]http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/1557253269[/url]

and then [b]The Path of Life: Benedictine Spirituality for Monks and Lay People by [/b]Cyprian Smith, OSB [url="http://www.ltp.org/p-2069-the-path-of-life-benedictine-spirituality-for-monks-and-lay-people.aspx"]http://www.ltp.org/p...lay-people.aspx[/url]

I also read [b]Mother Benedict: Foundress of the Abbey of Regina Laudis[/b] by Antoinette Bosco [url="http://www.amazon.com/Mother-Benedict-Foundress-Regina-Laudis/dp/1586171860"]http://www.amazon.co...s/dp/1586171860[/url]

They also have books for sale in their gift shop, like the biography and a small book on the history of chant and another on the San Juan Islands.

For the first week I helped feed cows and sheep and llamas (not sure I like them yet), and went to visit the chickens (but I didn’t have the job of feeding them or collecting the eggs – the Intern did that). From the second week, we had other visitors, so I let the Intern take them along to feed, as they all wanted to get some experience with it and I had other things I could do. I helped clean the chapel once a week and the guest house once a week and helped the nun in charge of guest facilities to do the laundry of sheets and towels after the guests would leave. I also helped move furniture in the chaplain’s house. One day I was asked to drive a monastery car while a nun drove a van that needed repair to the mechanic. We took the two cars on the ferry to Anacortes where we dropped off her car at the mechanic. I then took her to a medical appointment and while she was there, I ran various errands for her, including going to a fabric shop and buying material for a black veil to replace an old one. Then I picked her up again and we went to Mount Vernon to do the grocery shopping and some other small errands before we went back to Anacortes to pick up the now repaired van and then catch the ferry back to Shaw Island. It was an amazing day. On another day I went with another nun to visit one of the nuns who was in a hospital in Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) having rehab after knee surgery. That was good because I was able to spend some time getting to know both of these nuns as well. Then one Saturday evening the Intern and I went to Friday Harbor to attend Mass there, and we stopped by to visit the recovering nun again before Mass. The Mass was so beautiful with all of my favorite hymns being sung! We had arrived about a half hour before Mass and the priest was there praying. He turned he asked if we had come for Confession, so we both went to Confession before Mass – a completely unexpected grace. After Mass, we had three hours to wait before the ferry back to Shaw, so we had dinner and a glass of wine each! The ferry was late so we finally managed to get home around 11.30pm! Neither of us planned to go to Lauds the next day but I had an apocalyptical dream that woke me up around 5.30am and made me want to go pray to God, so I actually made it to Lauds after all :) .

The scenery was beautiful, almost beyond description. The first day the land was covered with snow but after a day or two, it all melted and the weather became spring-like during the day and icy cold at night. I took a few long walks, one to a beach and one to the cottage known as Onesimus that was used for spinning, weaving, herbs and mustards etc. This cabin was located about a mile and a half from the monastery and by the time I got there, I was exhausted, so I spent a little time resting there and then walked back again. I had wanted to make it as far as the library down the road, but got too tired since the road was almost straight uphill! I did manage to get to the library on another day, and found a great looking book about John the Apostle, but didn’t take it out because I knew I wouldn’t get it finished before I left. :( . I plan to get it when I go back.

[i][img]http://i860.photobucket.com/albums/ab166/nunsense/IMG_3809.jpg[/img][/i]


[i]St Joseph guesthouse in foreground and St Scholastica guest house in background.[/i]

I also visited the ‘free box’ on a couple of days with one of the nuns. This is a wooden shed that the residents use to exchange unwanted items that others might want – kind of like a free second hand shop. We dropped off a box or two of items that the nuns didn’t want, and we would look around to see if there was anything we wanted there. There were racks with clothes on them, kitchen items, books, and lots of other things. The Intern found a book there one day but I didn’t see anything I needed or wanted. I did buy a book at the ferry terminal in Friday Harbour – they have bookshelves there in the waiting room with used books for sale at $1 per book (honour system) and the money goes to charity. The book was a ‘Sister Joan’ mystery, and although the mystery part was okay, the religious life part was really out the window! The Prioress in the book wore a purple habit, the nuns a blue habit and the postulants a pink one! I laughed at that.

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BarbaraTherese
Welcome back, nunsense! :winner:
What a beautiful sharing you have given to us - a beautiful story - and written with openhearted honesty. My heart was sort of in my mouth until I read "when I go back" in your first post I think it was. I am overjoyed for you!

God bless you and your vocation. I hope you will be able to share some of your journey anyway once you actually enter and I hope the time will pass quickly for you - and thank you again for sharing a truly beautiful and very well written descriptive story of your Benedictine visit - and the pictures......you have a most courageous and Faith filled spirit in my opinion......Barb

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EmilyAnn
Welcome back! I'm so glad you've found where you belong. It's such a wonderful feeling. I can't believe you've got your next visit arranged already, that's so great.

When I read about having to get the ferry I couldn't help but giggle that my (hopeful) future community is Benedictine and on an island too. :P

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HopefulBride
NUNSENSE!!!!!!!!!!! oh welcome back and my heart is soo sooo sooo overjoyed to hear you are back and to read this. I am so happy for you that I could cry.

May the Lord continue to guide you. You have been such an inspiration of trusting the Lord with your vocation. Thanks so much for sharing this part of your journey with us.


AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH I am so flipping excited :woot: :w00t:

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Maximilianus
I think they give you more time so you can bond with the llamas and there is a UFO in the second pic.

[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v446/echo4lima/osb.png?t=1320039338[/img]

It seems like you have finally descended Monte Carmelo and are now ascending Montecassino.

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marigold
Aaaaah! Wow. Nunsense I am so happy that you're back, but sooo much more happy that you had a good time and that it all seems to be working out and that you're happy (it's difficult to find original ways of saying these things but you know what I mean)! Like Barb I had my heart in my mouth until you wrote about that change of heart after the conversation with the nun, and after that it was a joy to read how much happier you became, and how you seemed to fit in.

The parts about not having a structured 'discernment process' and just working alongside the nuns, yes that sounds familiar. But also the hugely liberating realisation that they want you just as you are, and not trying to fit you into a mould - also familiar and I'm overjoyed that you've experienced this as well! It feels great doesn't it?

I had to laugh when you wrote about nobody turning up for Lauds. The same thing happened on my first morning - I was up like a shot at 5 a.m. and rushed to the chapel, only to find it dark and deserted. I went back to my cell feeling like someone had played a prank on me, fell asleep again until 7 and then went out to the kitchen where the Abbess told me they'd moved Matins to 6 a.m. during the summer so everyone could get their farm chores done before it got too hot. Hehehe :)

Anyway, very glad you're back, but hopefully not for too long! :)

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i<3LSOP
I'm very happy for you nunsense! :yahoo:




[quote name='nunsense' timestamp='1328601502' post='2382926']
[u][b]Our Lady of the Rock Benedictine Monastery[/b][/u]

[img]http://i860.photobucket.com/albums/ab166/nunsense/MFel_smile_playing_1108.jpg[/img]
[i]Mother Felicitas teaches violin and singing[/i]
[/quote]

Aw! I play the voilin!

She needs to improve her bowhold a bit... but other then that, she looks pretty good. ;)

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krissylou
Oh this sounds wonderful! And the pictures are GORGEOUS. I might need to be one of those interns someday, just to luxuriate in the scenery for a while.

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nunsense
[quote name='bernadette d' timestamp='1328604289' post='2382929']
Wonderful to have you back! It all sounds amazing.
[/quote]

Thank you. Good to be back on phatmass.

[quote name='BarbaraTherese' timestamp='1328608957' post='2382939']
Welcome back, nunsense! :winner:
What a beautiful sharing you have given to us - a beautiful story - and written with openhearted honesty. My heart was sort of in my mouth until I read "when I go back" in your first post I think it was. I am overjoyed for you!

God bless you and your vocation. I hope you will be able to share some of your journey anyway once you actually enter and I hope the time will pass quickly for you - and thank you again for sharing a truly beautiful and very well written descriptive story of your Benedictine visit - and the pictures......you have a most courageous and Faith filled spirit in my opinion......Barb
[/quote]

Since there are only six weeks and I have much to do, I am sure the time will pass quickly. Thank you for your kind words.

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nunsense
[quote name='EmilyAnn' timestamp='1328610827' post='2382943']
Welcome back! I'm so glad you've found where you belong. It's such a wonderful feeling. I can't believe you've got your next visit arranged already, that's so great.

When I read about having to get the ferry I couldn't help but giggle that my (hopeful) future community is Benedictine and on an island too. :P
[/quote]

Thanks for the welcome back. I love the ferry but it does take a big chunk of time out of the day. Leaving the Island seems to end up at least a half day event, sometimes a full day if one is missed. But once the Spring schedule starts, there will be more scheduled ferries running. During the Winter, they are limited and far between because there aren't many tourists.

[quote name='AnneLine' timestamp='1328611682' post='2382944']
A beatiful sharing, and a beautiful discernment. Glad for you, Nunsense. Keep on listening and being.
[/quote]

Thank you.

[quote name='HopefulBride' timestamp='1328611986' post='2382945']
NUNSENSE!!!!!!!!!!! oh welcome back and my heart is soo sooo sooo overjoyed to hear you are back and to read this. I am so happy for you that I could cry.

May the Lord continue to guide you. You have been such an inspiration of trusting the Lord with your vocation. Thanks so much for sharing this part of your journey with us.

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH I am so flipping excited :woot: :w00t:
[/quote]


:) You make me smile. Thank you for your excitement! lol


[quote name='Maximilianus' timestamp='1328614123' post='2382947']
I think they give you more time so you can bond with the llamas and there is a UFO in the second pic.

[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v446/echo4lima/osb.png?t=1320039338[/img]

It seems like you have finally descended Monte Carmelo and are now ascending Montecassino.
[/quote]

I noticed that UFO after I had taken the pic - wonder what it was???

I think Monte Cassino is an easier climb for me :P

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nunsense
[quote name='marigold' timestamp='1328615588' post='2382951']
Aaaaah! Wow. Nunsense I am so happy that you're back, but sooo much more happy that you had a good time and that it all seems to be working out and that you're happy (it's difficult to find original ways of saying these things but you know what I mean)! Like Barb I had my heart in my mouth until you wrote about that change of heart after the conversation with the nun, and after that it was a joy to read how much happier you became, and how you seemed to fit in.


The parts about not having a structured 'discernment process' and just working alongside the nuns, yes that sounds familiar. But also the hugely liberating realisation that they want you just as you are, and not trying to fit you into a mould - also familiar and I'm overjoyed that you've experienced this as well! It feels great doesn't it?


I had to laugh when you wrote about nobody turning up for Lauds. The same thing happened on my first morning - I was up like a shot at 5 a.m. and rushed to the chapel, only to find it dark and deserted. I went back to my cell feeling like someone had played a prank on me, fell asleep again until 7 and then went out to the kitchen where the Abbess told me they'd moved Matins to 6 a.m. during the summer so everyone could get their farm chores done before it got too hot. Hehehe

Anyway, very glad you're back, but hopefully not for too long! [/quote]



Thank you for the welcome back. And yes, the schedule change was unexpected since they have their schedule posted in the guest house! But once we knew, all was well and in fact, better because we got an extra few minutes of sleep in the morning! :)


[quote name='InPersonaChriste' timestamp='1328616445' post='2382954']
A interesting and wonderful experience it truly must have been nunsense!

Prayers for you! [/quote]


Thank you. :)

[quote name='regina_coeli' timestamp='1328618643' post='2382958']
I am so happy for you!
[/quote]


Thank you. :)



[quote name='Lisa' timestamp='1328623186' post='2382987']
That sounds like such a life-giving visit!

Like all the others, I was reading anxiously for you!!!


Thanks be to God! [/quote]


Thank you - it was wonderful.


[quote name='i&lt;3LSOP' timestamp='1328624366' post='2382993']
I'm very happy for you nunsense!

Aw! I play the voilin!

She needs to improve her bowhold a bit... but other then that, she looks pretty good. [/quote]


I know nothing about violins - perhaps she is holding it the Benedictine way? :P


[quote name='FutureCarmeliteClaire' timestamp='1328627162' post='2383006']
So happy for you, Nunsense!!!!!!!!! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! We missed you. [/quote]


Thank you. It's good to be back. I did give the phatmass url to the Intern - maybe she will end up posting here - who knows?<br />


[quote name='krissylou' timestamp='1328629555' post='2383017']
Oh this sounds wonderful! And the pictures are GORGEOUS.

I might need to be one of those interns someday, just to luxuriate in the scenery for a while.

[/quote]


That's the beautiful thing about monastery guest houses, one is able to come and rest and be still - and just refresh the soul. Even if I weren't going back to become a postulant, I would love to go back for a visit - now that I understand about letting it all go instead of trying to control everything!! :)

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