There is a nice little rock garden with a koi pond on the grounds of St. Meinrad’s. It is open to the public. (Not all areas are).
St. Meinrad Archabbey is in St. Meinrad, Indiana. It is a Benedictine monastery and seminary. The Benedictines have as part of their Rule to serve the guest as if he (or she) is Christ, so they always have guest houses that are quite nice to stay in . They are good for going on retreats.
Here are some pictures from the guest house there.
The guest house itself, as seen on the way back from the Abbey.
The baptism font is outside of the doors of the chapel. This is right in front of you when you exit the dormitory area.
At the back of the chapel (in line with the font) is this unusual crucifix. It looks like Jesus needs a chiropractor.
(Edit to add – I looked up why his head is tilted, and learned from the website Reachparadise.com that crucifixes “…that show His head tilted slightly down (or up) and to the right are taking some artistic liberties. The right hand, in Christian faith, is the hand of blessing. Since Jesus chose to sacrifice Himself for our sins, He, in turn, gave us the ultimate blessing. This is why His head faces right in some crucifixes – to show that His death is a blessing for all of us.” It goes on to say that other reasons include “One stated that Jesus was facing the good thief, whom He saved before dying. The other said it was to reinforce that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.”
On the right side is the eternal flame signifying the presence of Jesus, and the aubrey, which holds the reserved sacrament (blessed communion wafers).
To the left is the paschal candle.
And a carved wooden statue of Mary and Jesus.
Near the front is an icon of Christ.
We had a room there that had supplies for us to work with while we were there. There were coloring books, pens, paints, magazines, juggling balls and scarves, and jigsaw puzzles. I was amused that the one that people pulled out to work on was one of a huge cathedral. It was impossible for one person to do it all in the time we were there, so we all took turns (without discussing it, because it was a silent retreat) to work on it. We were working together to build the church in many different ways.
Brother Maurus, our host and liaison, made sure to put out wine for us at dinner.
The sign on the door to the dormitory, reminding people to be mindful of others who were there. Not everyone who goes there is on silent retreat.
5 large carrots, julienne-cut
2 tsp cumin powder, divided
2 tsp curry powder, divided
¼ cup parsley flakes, crushed just before use
An inch of butter, divided
Steam the carrots until they are medium-soft. You don’t want them mushy, but you also don’t want them so firm that they won’t absorb the flavor.
While they are steaming, prep a large glass or ceramic bowl. Put half the butter in the bottom, thinly sliced. (You want it to melt quickly.) Add half the cumin and curry powders evenly over the bottom of the bowl.
When the carrots are done, pour them into the prepared bowl and immediately put a cover over it. I used a plate, upside-down. It is ideal if there is a 1 to 2 inch space between the carrots and the cover. This will use the heat of the carrots to melt the butter.
After about 5 minutes, toss the mixture in the bowl and add the rest of the butter and spices, including the parsley. Work quickly to retain the heat. Put the cover back on. Let sit at least another 5 minutes.
Serve immediately, or you can refrigerate and serve the next day, when the flavors are even better.
Makes 4 servings.
I’ve not done any of these in months. I’ve been trying to walk at least 30 minutes every morning before going to work, so that eats into my art time. Then realized (remembered?) that I can do pieces of this – do the backgrounds one day, and the images and words another day. That makes it easier. I may add more to this post if I create more this month. There is something to be said for limiting myself to only a few forms of artistic expression, but I’m not there yet. Maybe I never will be. I tend to explore similar themes regardless of the form – collage, art journal, painting, beading, or even writing. It all blends together. But it does lead to having to have a lot of different art supplies and room to store them. While this genre produces small art, it takes up a lot of space to store the supplies for it.
Very few people really knew where Mr. Mungeon lived. It wasn’t like it was a secret. It was just that his house wasn’t easy to get to.
You could drive to the address, that was easy enough. 216 W. Church St. was right in the middle of town, just off the town square. The Presbyterian church, the big one, the first one, made of substantial granite stones, weathered brown with all the years they’d seen, was just across the street. The house just simply wasn’t there, not as far as anyone could see.
Mr. Mungeon had lived there all his life, as had his parents before that, and their parents before that. They had moved to this town as soon as they’d saved up enough money after arriving by ocean liner from Romania. That trip had cost them all they had, scraped together over the years and added to in the last month before they left by selling all their furniture and most of their clothes. Not like they could have taken any of it on the ship. They were lucky they could take as much as they did, as everybody was subject to a weight restriction.
Mama and Papa were sure they could make the grade, but they weren’t sure all of their five children could. Every ounce counted. Once a week they weighed themselves and their belongings, all together, on the scale down at the local hardware store that served the farmers. Every week they had to pare back more, unsure what more they would have to give up the next week. Papa started exercising to lose weight. Mama cut her meals in half to do the same – not like she could afford to, stick thin as she was. After they had sold everything they could, it still was obvious that as a group they were over by 46 pounds. It was decided that the oldest child, their eight-year-old son Bogdam would stay back with his grandparents. There were tears of course, but it was for the best. If it wasn’t him, then two of the younger children would have to stay behind. He promised to be brave, promised to make his parents proud by working hard on the grandparent’s farm, promised to obey them as if they were his own parents. That was many years ago, but the effects of that separation were still felt.
After the family had endured the poking and prodding and paperwork at Ellis Island, along with all the other hundreds of newcomers searching for a new life, they stayed in the cheapest housing they could afford, tucked away in a narrow back alley, a warren of an immigrant neighborhood in New York. Papa Mungeon, Ionut by name, worked hard at the shipyard while his wife Beata took in laundry and watched other people’s children for a few pennies a day. It took them nearly 2 years to save up enough money to relocate.
All during that time they never mentioned Bogdam. It was as if he’d never existed. It was easier that way. In many ways he was dead to them because this trip had been one-way all along. Everyone knew it. “The American wake,” the Irish called it, mourning their living at the docks because they would never see them again. Letters were possible, of course, but they took months to travel across the sea. But it wasn’t as if anyone in the family could write, or read, for that matter. No, this way was for the best. A clean cut heals faster.
The house was perfect for the family when they finally saw it. Ionut had bought it on faith, having heard about it from another immigrant he met in the shipyards. Members of his family had already moved to this town, so far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It took nearly a week of travel by rail to get to it, and after the sleeper cabin, not to mention the nearly 2 years of being packed like sardines on the fifth-floor walk-up apartment they had in New York, almost anything would have been an improvement. But this was palatial to them. Three bedrooms, a living room where they could all sit in chairs and visit at the same time, an actual kitchen, and even a bedroom with a real tub. It was a dream come true. Sure it needed some work. What would you expect for a house for $20,000? But Papa was good with his hands and had learned enough while working at the docks to do most of the work himself. You had to do a little of everything to get by.
The family history was well-known to the current Mr. Mungeon who occupied the house, all except the part about Bogdam. When there are many generations living in the same house year upon year, the history tends to stay intact along with the heirlooms. No need to pack up the fine china by putting plates, saucers and serving trays in a big pieces of brown butcher paper to prep them for a move when you stay put. No need to divide up the bedroom furniture among the grandchildren. No fights over who got the dining room table or the coveted rocking chair that Grandpa carved. It never left – any of it. They never had to buy housewarming gifts, never had to have going away parties. They never had to fool with undertakers or coffins either, because they created a cemetery in the backyard.
At every funeral they opened with a recitation of all the previously deceased members of the family, and that was when the problem started. Everything was fine until Bogdam died. Since they had omitted him for their story, they had no way of knowing their mistake. He died unnoticed, unremarked, all those many miles away in Romania. He was living alone by then, the grandparents having died years before. He kept up with the farm, same as he’d done since he moved there. Nobody in the village knew how to contact his family in America when someone finally went to check on him nearly a week later, so they buried him without any ceremony and went on with their lives.
The first funeral in the family in America after his death, there was a pause in the air, heavy and expectant, after they read the customary list of names. It was the same kind of pause a parent imposes while waiting for their child to say “thank you” after someone has bestowed a kindness upon them. Everyone felt it, but no one thought twice about it.
Until it happened again, eight years later.
Then, when Papa Ionut died, it was more present, more dense, as if silence can have presence, as if silence can take up space. It was as if there was someone else in the backyard with them, someone they had forgotten to invite.
Every year after that the presence grew heavier, denser, taking up space in an invisible yet present way. Every year it sought to make itself noticed and known to them. It focused on the bricks of the house itself. One by one it made them disappear to the eye. They were still present, still a part of the building. One by one they just weren’t there, but yet they were.
The spirit of Bogdam hoped that they would come to question it, wonder about this happening, wonder how something could be there and yet not be there at the same time. It hoped they would see it as a sign, or maybe an omen. What else was missing? What had they forgotten? Who was absent in their hearts? Secrets cannot stay that way for long. The burden is too great. They spring forth like jonquils, pushed up out of the ground all of a sudden one spring morning.
Yet they never noticed. The secret had been unspoken for so long it had stopped being a secret, had stopped being real to them. The memory of Bogdam had not been suppressed, so much as erased. It wasn’t even like a palimpsest – there was no trace of the former message. It wasn’t as if the page had been pulled out of the family records book. It was as if they had created a whole new book from scratch.
Over the years, the house had simply faded from sight. It wasn’t as if the walls were see-through, though. Anyone who went inside vanished from view as well. There was no trace of furniture at all. It was all there. It was simply that the house and anything inside it was not visible from the outside.
Because it happened so slowly, the family did not realize it had occurred. They rarely invited people over, so friends never mentioned anything was off about the family homestead. Because the furniture was still visible once the family members got inside, they never even suspected anything was wrong. It was as if their minds simply expected to see a house, so they did.
The mailbox and front steps near the street were still quite visible, so they still got mail. The postman had gotten used to it the same as they had, and since there was little turnover and nobody else ever bid on that route, the same postman served that street for nearly 25 years, the time it took for the house to fade from sight. By the time he retired, his son had taken over the route and he knew better than to question. Nobody bothered him at the house. Not children, not dogs. The mail was collected daily – it was never left to the vagaries of the weather. Who was he to question? They never seemed to order any parcels that needed to be signed for, so he never had to negotiate that potentially awkward situation. If he had, he would have discovered the house was just as real as it had always been. It was just as solid, just as present as ever. Just like Bogdam, who was still part of the family even though he was out of sight (and out of mind).