Greymoor Ecumenical

“I hope the zombies don’t get us,” Hayden said.

“I knew you should never have snuck into that stupid movie, Zombieland!” I told my almost-13 year old.

“Let’s go back to Kara’s,” he said.  Our friends lived down the road and had just moved to Garrison from the city. My daughters were staying with them. Hayden and I were spending one night at the Greymoor monastery.

I love monasteries. I love them in theory, but Hayden’s right, they can be spooky.  And a bit chilly. I don’t know why they’re cold. But even in October at Taize in the Southeast-ish of France, that monastery was so cold, perched as it was, way up on a hill. (Maybe that’s why monasteries are chilly, because they’re hilly!)

The day before, the friendly woman on the phone had instructed me on how to find our way into our room in the Greymoor Spiritual Life Center since we were arriving after hours. When I asked how much to pay, she said, “Whatever you want.”

We entered through the loading dock, up an elevator five stories, then walked another flight up to the sixth floor. The hallway was long and well-lit. It seemed we were the only people on the whole floor of one hundred identical cells. Er, rooms.

After the zombie conversation with Hayden, we went to sleep. Lately, I’ve been waking in the night, worried. But at the monastery, I slept well and felt prayed for, even though I woke in the night. I felt a little spooked, but also safe. I felt hidden.

Our room was college-dorm 1950’s chic. From one twin bed, you could put your feet on the other twin bed. We had a sink and a small closet. I felt I hit pay dirt when I found the extra 1950’ish blanket in the drawer.

In the morning, I asked an African woman in the long hallway for directions to the dining room. We found our way back down one flight. A different hallway this time. Full of light and art. Although it was a bit heavy on the crucifix art and the women weeping art. Still, lovely art.

Hayden wore my tee shirt that says, “Love ’em all. Let God sort out the rest.” I loved that my son joined me on this retreat. He didn’t balk about not having brought his XBox or a friend. He didn’t miss the luxuries of a hotel. 

We walked past the unoccupied Spelman library with a gorgeous view of the Hudson. We found the dining hall. Fifty empty tables. Only two occupied by a handful of grey-haired men. One monk wore the brown robe and white rope. Hayden stared. The gentlemen nodded at us or said, “Good morning.” I think the Franciscan brothers are known for their hospitality.

I had hoped they would be serving oatmeal. Yes! Thank God! Oatmeal and fresh fruit. Exactly as I’d hoped. Simple and healthy.

I don’t know why I love monasteries. Maybe because they are simple, art-filled, friendly, archiac, timeless. Maybe I like monasteries, too, because I like rules. St. Benedict’s rules had to do with humility, chastity, poverty, silence. (In college, I had to read St. Benedict’s Rules for some Midieval Literature class.)

I like having my #7 Rules for Living. They are a little easier for me than a monk’s vows.

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