Spent 3 days at the Franciscan Monastery at Glasshampton, and had an absolutely delightful time actually. This was a bit surprising because I'm usually a bit petrified of solitude and silence (which monasteries happen to be fairly well know for). It was myself, my friend Chris (a new friend I met at L'Abri), 2 other English folks visiting, and the 3 "Brothers"- Anselm, Nikolas, and Andrew. A nice small crew.
I enjoyed the rhythm of the place: daily prayer times (7am, noon, 5, 9), 3 dynamite meals every day (the monks make a pretty mean feast- we ate really well. Fresh fruits and veggies from their own garden and just really solid meals, even ice cream for desert. And all the meals were eaten in silence, which was unique and actually quite enjoyable- no felt need to create conversation, we just sat next to each other and ate), I read a full book in 2 days, went for some lovely walks, and just enjoyed the peacefulness of it all. And I got to have a few really neat conversations with the brothas as well.
My first morning there, I went into the kitchen and poured myself a cup of coffee and added my milk and sugar, I take a large sip and it's the worst thing I've ever tasted. I spit it out in disgust, thinking that maybe the milk was gone bad or perhaps that it was supposed to taste like it did (Maybe some bizarre spiritual discipline of drinking rancid beverages each morning...). I decide to try out the tea, only to find the exact same results- disgusting. I spit it out in the sink and decide that either the monks just don't know how to make a good warm beverage or that it is indeed the way they do things and it was intended to be repulsive. As I was about to give up, I notice that the 2 large scoops of "sugar" I put into my beverages was located on the stove by the coffee pot and after tasting it, I realize that I had added large amounts of salt to my drinks. So after this revelation, I added a few scoops of the correct white crystal sweetening substance, enjoyed my cup of non-spiritual-discipline coffee.
After the monastery, I ended up going to Wales for a few days with Chris. We stayed with a family that he had met a few years earlier- he met them when he was traveling and had gotten lost and didn't know where he was going to stay for the night. This couple saw him, took him in for the night, and they became good friends... Great story. And they were just fantastic to us- epic meals, good conversations, nice place. And it was just this absolutely georgeous area in the middle of a bunch of mountains, right beside the ocean as well, so I did a good hike each day I was there.
And now I'm in Oxford at a hostel and I'm about to walk out of the door to meet my friend Matthew at the "Eagle and Child" pub for some dinner. This place was one of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien favorite hangout spots here, so I'm excited to hang out there in that atmosphere.
I'll add some pics from the monastery and Wales soon...