For our Sunday drive, we decided to go up to Collegeville and walk around at St. John's University, a Benedictine school with an attached abbey. I think St. John's is one of the most beautiful, restful places I have ever been — a sanctuary hidden amid prairies, cornfields, forests and lakes; a thin place, even, where the veil between heaven and earth is a little lighter, a little more ethereal than it is everywhere else.
I think part of it is due to the spirit of Benedictine welcome that hangs over the place, from the plaque outside the abbey chapel to the older monk who invited us into the Great Hall and gave us a loaf of bread that the monks make at the monastery.
If you asked me my favorite kind of church architecture, I don't know that my answer would be a 1950s-modern design by a former Bauhaus artist (Marcel Breuer). All I know is that whenever I walk into the abbey chapel, I catch my breath. There is something awesome and amazing about it. I had an opportunity to participate in midday prayer with the monks once when I was up there a few years ago. I'd love to do that again, maybe even come for a weekend retreat. That's hard to do when you have kids, though. Maybe I will just have to reread Kathleen Norris' The Cloister Walk, which is about the year she spent living at St. John's.
We took a walk in the woods, around part of the lake ...
... and finally thought to ask someone to take a family picture.