A Quiet Oasis
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit offers a vacation for the soul. Just minutes from Atlanta, a respite for the body, mind and spirit. By Melany Klinck
In the heart of Georgia, the land of sweet Vidalia onions and mouthwatering peaches, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit dishes out a different kind of nourishment—food for the spirit.
“Everyone has a spiritual hunger in them,” says Brother Callistus, OCSO one of 40 monks who live and work in the monastery, located just 35 miles southeast of Atlanta.
To satisfy that hunger, the resident Cistercian (or Trappist) monks have created a 2,100-acre refuge. Each week, monks host overnight visitors in the monastery guesthouse for private or guided retreats.
“We witness and minister to people of different faith backgrounds or of no faith, all of whom are seeking God. They find solace in this place and what we do here,” says Br. Callistus. “People come with expectations for some kind of answer, relief or direction … [and] they find light where there was darkness, clarity where there was confusion.”
Shining light into darkness is just one manifestation of the monks’ hospitality. They also welcome day visitors to the contemplative landscape of the monastery. This year, more than 70,000 visitors will pass through the gates.
Many come for the prayer services. Others visit the Abbey Store, which sells fruitcakes or fudge from the monastery’s bakery, as well as religious items and books. Some come to visit Bonsai by the Monastery, where monks have nurtured miniature trees since the 1960s. And many come simply to enjoy the gardens, lake and walking trails.
Today, part of the property is protected as part of the Mount Arabia Heritage Area. The monastery is also home to Honey Creek Woodlands, a conservation site that offers nonembalming burials in plain wooden caskets or shrouds to people of any faith seeking a final resting place.