“Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and to my neighbor.”

~from the Novena to Saint Benedict

Early spring at the Weston Priory, a Benedictine monastery in Vermont, the monks garden is spare. You will note the bricks in the foreground with the message to “pray”. How fitting you might think.

In March, I and a group of Quaker men attended a retreat at the monastery. One of the group, my friend Ian, is a chimney sweep. When climbing to the top of chimneys in our region in Vermont and New Hampshire he often comes upon these bricks that read “pray”. I can imagine how Ian feels clinging to a ladder or roof for dear life, many, many feet from the ground. The bricks are always at the very top. A sure sign of the mason’s sense of humor.

Ian donated these antique bricks to the monks as a sign of friendship and good humor. They are not however what you think. They were not manufactured as a prompt to religiosity. They were made by the Pray Brick Company, Robert Ellsworth Pray proprietor, of Greenfield, Massachusetts from 1880 to 1920. Many buildings of that era in the region contain these bricks.

The monks of Saint Benedict do not necessarily need prompts to pray, they spend their lives doing it. Perhaps when they go to work iPrayn the garden they will remember Ian the Quaker chimney sweep and his friendship…

Views: 478

Comment by William F Rushby on 4th mo. 9, 2016 at 12:48pm

When I was in graduate school, C. P. Loomis (one of my professors) argued that the early Anabaptists' skill as agriculturists owed much to the many monastics who joined the Anabaptist movement.  I had already visited the monastery at Monmorency Falls in Quebec when I was in summer school at McGill U.  I was fascinated.  Since then, I have never turned down opportunities to visit monasteries!

While at home in the Champlain Valley, we often visited the Weston Priory, usually with family members, but also sometimes with Mennonite friends.

When Darlene and I traveled to Boston, looking for help for her recurring and rare form of uterine cancer, we tried to do some vacationing when possible, particularly along the Bay and Cape Cod.  One late afternoon, we were traveling down Route One (?), and came across a sign indicating the presence of a monastery; it proclaimed "All are Welcome."  I said to Darlene, I guess that includes us, and we turned in at the entrance!

It was close to the time for late afternoon prayers, and we decided to stay, to pray with the monks!  As it turned out, Darlene was the only woman present.  Her voice could be distinctly heard among the males singing; the monastery was small, so there really weren't many people present.  As the worship concluded, one of the brothers approached us to welcome us.  When he found out why we were in Massachusetts, he told us he would pray for Darlene as she coped with cancer.

So, Roger, thanks for this story!

Comment by Roger Vincent Jasaitis on 4th mo. 10, 2016 at 12:07pm

And thank you William for sharing your story. Our Meeting's sign says "all are welcome" as well. An opportunity to cross-pollenate so to speak :-)

Comment by William F Rushby on 4th mo. 11, 2016 at 12:29pm

To give this thread an acoustic dimension: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqwV9l-U8ds&feature=share

Comment by Roger Vincent Jasaitis on 4th mo. 11, 2016 at 1:13pm

The monks at Weston have departed from the traditional music to a large extent. They write and sing their own Liturgy using folk instruments (guitar, hand drums, flute, etc.). You can find their music on their website; http://westonpriory.org/music.html

Comment

You need to be a member of QuakerQuaker to add comments!

Join QuakerQuaker

Support Us

Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.


You can also make a one-time donation.

Latest Activity

Olaf Radicke left a comment for William F Rushby
"Hello William! Yes you are right, this is a place full of history. For quakers and mennonites. I…"
yesterday
William F Rushby left a comment for Olaf Radicke
"Hello, Olaf!  As you feel able, it would be encouraging to hear more about your spiritual…"
yesterday
William F Rushby left a comment for Diane Kerchner
"Hello, Diane!  As you feel able, it would be encouraging to hear more about your spiritual…"
yesterday
Howard Brod commented on Keith Saylor's blog post 'In the Life itself the need for prophets and prophecies is fulfilled.'
"Thank you Keith. Beautifully expressed! Your intro: ". . . through . . . the spirit of…"
5th day (Thu)
William F Rushby left a comment for Olaf Radicke
"Welcome, Olaf!  "
5th day (Thu)
Olaf Radicke updated their profile
4th day (Wed)
Diane Kerchner liked QuakerQuaker's group Plainness & Simplicity
10th month 21
Diane Kerchner liked William F Rushby's discussion Recapturing Initiative for Conservative Friends
10th month 21

© 2020   Created by QuakerQuaker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service