Photos and Haiku from Gethsemani

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful, refreshing, life-changing weekend at the Abbey of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky.  My heart is still full from all the blessings I received from the monks that weekend.  There will be many reflections on this first visit, but the following is a beginning.  I know that I will return to that sacred place, and perhaps only then will I be able to begin to understand for myself what God has done through the Trappists of Gethsemani.


Image(The sign marking the front entrance to the Abbey grounds)

you did not know me–
and yet, you welcomed me in
as one of y our own.

i am so grateful
to the God to whom we pray
for your gifts to me


(Retreat House dining room)

you have shared so much,
have expected so little.
how can i give thanks?

i will pray for you–
and with you, now that i know
your patterns of prayer


(Monks at prayer)

i will also give
as generously as you–
now that i have learned


(Dom Frederic’s Lake)

silence is a gift
it tunes the ears to listen–
to hear Creation




(Rose of Sharon)

senses come to life
so many butterflies here–
so many colors.

then, you gave me life


(One view of the Monks’ Graveyard)

in this place–
“God is our refuge and strength.”
in all places.


(The grave marker of Fr. Louis–known to the outside world at Thomas Merton)

Father Louis–
Gethsemani has shown me
how to be quiet.

torn between two worlds,
father louis sought silence
and silence sought him

Bobby, Martin, Louis–1968, a year of tragedy

two lost to mad men
one, to the modern age–
a monk, out of time


(The graves of Thomas Merton and James Fox–Fox was often portrayed in Merton’s writings as his great adversary in many matters–intellectual and spiritual)

two brothers in life,
so often adversaries–
resting side by side


(Another view of the Monks’ Graveyard–they all face East–in this case, toward Mother Mary)

dead monks, row on row
silently waiting for God,
while their brothers pray


(A view of the Church bell tower)

if you can listen,
you may hear the rope moving
before the bell chimes

the bells continue
long after they have been rung–
vibrating in praise


(A quiet place to sit)

as the late noon sun,
Jesus comes, casting shadows
that cover the earth

once, i knew so much–
now, i know very little.
God has shown me this.


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