Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Unusual Vespers

Long Retreat is over, we are all talking now. I'm glad for it, myself! Matins and Eucharist in the morning, of course, and then the monks and I went out to a diner for brunch. People were in a good mood. Now that Long Retreat is over about half the monks of the house are taking vacation time. Some have already left (but not without giving me hour long video taped interviews, first!), but for lunch it was decided to go out to a diner. In the afternoon I took a nap before Vespers.

Vespers was remarkable for several reasons. First, a storm come on. Between having the windows open and the rain hitting the roof, it was quite loud. Just before the Angelus bells rang, Bede told us that the incense he would be burning was a slightly different variation of the scent oils--he wanted feedback about how we liked it. As the bell rang and we started the Office a family came into the chapel. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a woman with a kid in arm crossing herself with holy water as she entered.

As the family settled in, I could sense that the community was a curious, by they seemed so natural and self confident that I thought that they were probably related to one of the monks, and were planning to go out for dinner or something (Sunday night are often a convienient time for that kind of thing). It was a husband and wife and two boys, perhaps as young as 5 and 8. As it turns out, they have NEVER been to Holy Cross before. The husband is a professor at Vassar and his wife is from France. They have been aware of Holy Cross for sometime, and have been checking out the website. Something inspired them to come on this particular day, for some reason, and we received them graciously. The boys did extremely well for such a quiet service, and I think we were all delighted to have them. Of all the Offices that happen in the course of a week, I think this is the one I would pick to take young kids. Sunday Vespers is always pretty relaxed--the mark of the end of the week and the beginning of sabbath rest. The next Office isn't until Tuesday. Almost every guest has left by Sunday Vespers, so it is usually just the monks and residents at Vespers.

So between those three things--new incense, the rain storm, and the family--it was a very energized Vespers!

BTW, I've interviewed about half the monks, now. Lots of really excellent material!


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