Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit

There is place within Rockdale County, Georgia which may be more well known to out-of-state visitors than to those who live within the county itself.  Most people who live here may have heard of it... most simply just call it "the monastery".  In 1944, when the monks purchased the land and then built their own buldings, this area was considered rural with mostly farms and not too many of those.  The monks first built a barn to house their animals and they actually lived in the barn loft above the animals!  They then built their church and if you go to see it, you will be amazed to discover that it was built with concrete.  It has been so smoothed over that you would never suspect that it is made of that material.  Just this past May, they built a new visitor center and also made the old barn (which was their first living quarters) as part of the new Monastic Heritage Center.  It is so beautifully done... I have been there several times since it opened and every time I go, I notice something new...  I will try to put some of my photos that my husband and I took on our visit today...

I was also able to ask one of the monks if  he knew that the monastery was mentioned in a book that I read many years ago (when I was 19!) called "Black Like Me", written by John Howard Griffin.   This was a white man who chemically altered his skin so as to be accepted and seen as a black man.  He simply wanted to try to understand that it would be like for a man of color in the South.  He traveled by bus and got off in Conyers, Georgia. There is an amusing story he told about getting off the bus, but I don't want to ruin it for anybody!  He then described the magnolia lined driveway into the monastery and asked to spend the night there...trying to explain to them that he was writing a book.  He was welcomed, of course, as I knew that he would be.  Now, when I asked the monk who was in the gift shop there if he knew of it...he didn't, so I hope that they will now look it up and I hope that they will like this book as much as I did.

Funnily enough, as I was looking at the books, one of them really stood out to me, it was called "Black Like Licorice" by Father Anthony.  (Father Anthony, the one who grows the nice banana peppers and the one who blesses the medals I buy there? Yes, the same one!)  Even though I haven't had time to read it yet, just from the cover, you can tell that he has spent time in Africa and it looks as if he speaks very plainly and movingly of all that he has seen and heard in his lifetime.

We have spent a great deal of time visiting the Monastery over the years.  Our son loved to go there the weeks before Christmas.  One of the monks (this doesn't happen anymore) used to place a very large nativity scene just outside the church...he would leave the manger EMPTY and have Joseph & Mary some distance away....and then, move Joseph & Mary a little closer to the manger each day...and it was very special to go the day after Christmas and then see the baby Jesus in the manger.  Afterwards, the three wise men would also move closer, just as it should be as our son pointed out to us when he was older!

 It is wonderful to have such a beautiful and sacred place to be so close to us...Today, after my husband's illness, it was so nice to hear him say..."You know, I really enjoyed our day at the monastery".



  1. That is my husband looling forlorn on Labor Day because the church service was cancelled for the holiday. Never mind, we went back two days later! Notice how the stained glass colors the building in blue, yet the stained glass in the front is yellow so the altar looks as if it is always bathed in sunlight. Brillant and beautiful.
    Feel free to click on the photos to see them larger and also to read what is written (interesting point about Georgia summers!).

  2. Kay, although I am Quaker I find great peace when I visit monasteries. The prevailing calm and quiet helps make me feel whole.

    In Europe we visit abbeys, and closisters, and here on the east coast we take pleasure in visiting (and staying for vespers), the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Ct. I highly recommend it to you.

    Thanks for this posting and I hope your husband is on the road to recovery.

    Now back to the birds for me,


  3. Dear Sharon,
    Oh yes, my husband and I also like to stay for vespers... the sound of the monks chanting makes one feel so at peace. Yes, my husband is getting better, thank you very much.
    And yes, it is back to the birds for me too!
    My hummingbirds are still here so I must make sure they have their sugar water and I must put out fresh water for my other birds!