It’s astounding when I think about a certain fact of my life. Let me pose as a question.
Where have I laid my head more than any other place that I (or my parents) have called home? (The answer may surprise you.)
The address is 3642 Monks Road, Trappist, KY. The home of The Abbey of Gethsemani.
I love the Abbey. Hear me loud and clear! I LOVE THE ABBEY!! (Find out much more here: www.monks.org. It would take many blog posts to explain the why, what, how of the monastery. You really can’t say enough about it, it must be lived at … and out.)
There are many reasons why, let me give you six reasons.
- It’s my one true place of earthly rest.No matter what my frame of mind traveling these 3.5 hours, I’m always refreshed after a weekend or week of Kentucky quiet. It may be more vs. less at times, but this place rejuvenates me like no other place I’ve experienced. I love my home, but four kids and rest don’t typically go hand-in-hand. It’s me and God at the Abbey.
- Amazingly, this place of solitude has provided some of my greatest relational moments and equity.There is the drive there and back, full of reflective dialogue and laughs. We typically share lunch and dinner together. Because of the unique nature of this trip, there is something special that words can’t express about sharing this time with one another. There are WOW moments & a layer of depth that only retreats can give, but this goes even deeper. There’s a unique closeness I have with the Scott Griffiths, Chuck Hulls, and Drew Flamms from multiple times here. (I’ve taken in this time with over 60 men.)
- There are special treasures here that are unlike anything else in my life.
- Hollywood actor Ethan Hawke was a retreatant on the same week I was. (How have I not told you about that?)
- The cheese the monks used (key word: USED) to make is otherworldly. (They must have all been from Wisconsin.)
- There’s the infamous Chuck Hull holy water story.
- Steve Stuckey and I were treated to a Babette’s Feast of sorts with some international friends on one trip.
- There was the time a handful of us (maybe our most athletic grouping of guys) were going to challenge the monasteries to a game of football.
- We typically have a time of sharing and reflecting that breathes incredible life into each man.
- I could go on and on.
- It’s creating space for God to show up and move and do His work.
Some things in life need extra time and expanse. An hour in a book, coffee with a friend, etc. is good, but so often we need much more.
I have often said a week camping, retreating is worth a year of regular life together back home. A weekend at the Abbey has to be worth several months of relationship.
My friend, Mark Martin, came to Maiden Lane Church of God, that had a long history with The Living Christmas Tree.
When the decision came down to no longer hold the annual December event, he made two key statements. “I didn’t come to pastor this church, because of this (tradition).
He encouraged his people that some things run their course and you have to create space for God to create something new. This is exactly the opportunity at the monastery.
- The people I most love and cherish are better off because of my regular monastery trips.
On one hand, it’s time away from Kara, the kids and opportunities for a game, party, show, etc., but the perspective I get while away and my tank being filled make it very much a huge gain.
I usually send 10-15 post cards from the Abbey to family and friends, and those pack a punch. People are blessed to get regular mail.
I fall more in love with Christ when away like this and with those closest to me.
I love what I do in engaging men to be more fully alive as well.
- The Abbey is the gift that keeps on giving. To me. To the others that join me in this journey, and to those in my life and theirs.
There is no end to what can happen.
New dreams take hold. New visions for personal life, growth, family and ministry are captured. New ideas for business or growth come to a launching point.
One of my favorite things to present to people are books that have impacted me that might speak life or challenge to them.
If books are a good 100-level entry point, then the monastery retreats are 400-level.
They may not be for everyone but if you are open and willing, God will show up and bless, and you’ll be as satisfied as a church mouse eating monastery cheese.