Silence for body and mind

How often does it really happen that I enjoy the silence, that I am not getting nervous, not looking on my smartphone or switching on the radio, not thinking about the training or which groceries I need to make, which text I want to finish or who I should call back? Something always happens. The phone is ringing, messages are appearing, welcome to the normal course of life.

I go to the monastery to switch off. But actually I am switching on. I am switching on myself for me, my thoughts, my feelings, my body, my perception and my emotions. Who am I, what am I feeling, what and who is important to me, when am I happy and how do I get along with myself. For me it is a place of love, security, warmth and happiness. My smile while I am walking through the portal is as big as the smile of the sisters welcoming me. There is a warmth that surrounds immediately my heart.

In the monastery the sisters live, work, are silent and pray, everything at its time and everything with the same passion. It is a fix day and week structure that makes it easy for me to arrive and to become part of the monastery life. While entering the monastery I switch my mobile phone off, the missing contact to the outside world helps me to arrive faster and easier not only physical but also mental in the monastery.

At the breakfast they keep silent, there are various kinds of fresh baking bread with homemade jam and fresh alpine cheese that was given to the sisters. There is silence in the eating room, comfortable silence, I taste each bit of the bread as intensive as anywhere else. The breakfast is not the start of the day, as the day starts almost every day at 6am with the lauds. Praying is a fix part of the day and takes almost as much time as my training. After the lauds we celebrate the Holy mess, a way to start the day that is probably completely different to the way of most of the people. Most of the people celebrate the end of the working day and not the early morning. When the sisters are singing with their angel like voice and playing the harp and zither, I am feeling such a deep love and power, that I have get goose bumps. That’s pure beauty.

Another reason why I feel so comfortable are the odours. When I am entering my small room, it smells like fresh wood and fresh washed bed linen. A big old wooden cupboard, a wooden table and a cross on my wall fill the room and when I am looking out of the window, I can see a big majestic mountain. When I am looking down I see the monastery garden with herbs, vegetables and fruit trees. Everything is so simple and I realize that I am really enjoying that. It is great to have a nice flat, a big car and many clothes but this does not make happy. Happiness is a deeper feeling that occurs of my inner me. Materialistic things can’t make someone happy, maybe sometimes life easier.

The goal here is not to try to control everything and to listen to an inner powerful voice.

After the midday prayer we have lunch. While having the soup it is silent and someone is reading the bible. We have a semolina dumpling soup and who wants to can have a second portion. The sisters already know me and with a smile on their face they refill my bowl. After the soup it’s getting louder and conversations are starting. The sisters are giddy with pleasure as it had rained last night, finally after a long period of heat and drought. Their joy and gratitude is so catching that I am immediately affected. We enthuse about the fresh looking green grass and the smell of summer while we are enjoying the spinach spaetzle with chicken and tomato salad.

Besides praying the sisters are working in the monastery, each sister has its own tasks. Most of the time I spend with sister Mary in her studio. We make pottery, flower arrangements, or we are in the garden and pick berries. I realize how much nature has to offer and I reflect how reckless human beings treat nature. In the monastery we eat the fruits and vegetables that grow in their garden, plums, pears, peaches and apples and they do jam, stewed fruit and syrup with that.

In the afternoon it’s again time for work and afterwards they are praying the vespers. The guests are having dinner separated from the sisters. Once there is an artist from Belgium, than a musician from Poland or a young woman from Saxony-Anhalt. It’s similar to sport, you don’t know each other but you get along immediately. The day finishes with the evening prayer, the compline. The end of a normal day, a great day. I am grateful for this day and looking forward to the next one.

For me the days in the monastery are important to bethink myself of the relation to me, other people, my chosen way of life, what is my task in life and what can I effectuate. When I am leaving the monastery after a week I am full of energy and looking forward to my everyday life and at the same time I am feeling a kind of wrench in my heart. A good feeling as then I know that I have found here some kind of home, too.

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