Early this morning I left Louisville in darkness and drove into the light. The morning rush hour on I-65 was very intense as I left downtown. An accident in the northbound lane had traffic backed up for many miles. Thankfully, I was driving south. Everyone was in a hurry to get somewhere. I was in a hurry to get nowhere. Soon I got off at the Bardstown exit and had a more enjoyable drive. When I got to Bardstown I stopped for some breakfast and had a conversation with another retiree about how glad we were not to be in charge of baking the morning biscuits at Hardee’s. As we talked the place was just buzzing with activity. I was happy to get back in my car to continue my solitary drive to the monastery. The countryside was beautiful since much of it was still covered in a light snowfall.
When I got to the monastery the sun was in mid sky and the day was cold. The monastery retreat house is closed for renovation so there were virtually no people anywhere. Later in the morning while I was meditating in the church I did see Brother Luke who seemed to be preparing for the next prayer service that normally happens at 12:15 PM every day.
After visiting the gravesite of my dear friend, Dennis, I decided to take a walk to the site of the old and now demolished cow barn. When I was a novice monk at the monastery the cow bard was a place of great activity. At that time the monastery had a very large herd of Holstein milking cows. The milk was used to make the famous Trappist cheese. Almost every afternoon one of my jobs was to feed the cows. I did this with Brother Alban, Brother Columban, and the very dear Brother Ferdinand. Brother Ferdinand was an older and very holy monk that kind of took me under his wing. I can still remember his slight embarrassment when I asked him to explain to me…a city boy…the difference between a cow and a heifer.
After finishing my walk I visited the gift shop. I walked out with a new coffee mug, three jars of Trappist jelly, two bars of French soap, and a book on the life of Dom James Fox, a former abbot and a towering figure in the story of Thomas Merton. When I was in the monastery, Dom James was living in a hermitage up in the knobs. I was fortunate to visit him there a few times when Brother Norbert will drive there on Sunday mornings to bring Dom James to the monastery for Sunday mass and a good meal. I also remember one private one on one meeting with him. Dom James was a big part of the history of Gethsemani.
I had a pleasant drive home on the scenic route. However, at one point my GPS said I was driving in the middle of a field when I know I was on a highway!
Now I am home and it is time for a nap…
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