Monday, April 5, 2010

First Easter at New Norcia

We had a lovely time celebrating Easter with the Benedictine community at New Norcia. We were able to be there from Maundy Thursday right through to Easter Monday. What a treat! There were several of our friends and acquaintances there too, and such an interesting group of people who travel a long way to spend Easter like this, without a bunny in sight.

The Benedictines have a ministry of hospitality. This is the guest house where we stayed. The rooms are comfortable, but it is the peacefulness and quiet which is so highly valued. Most people find their mobile phone is out of range here, and there is no radio signal either, or any televisions.

The farmland behind the monastery was looking good after recent storms dumped over 80mm of rain in two days. I thought this landscape was begging for an Arthur Streeton to paint it.

There was time to walk after the regular prayer times, and high and holy days in the Abbey Chapel.

It was lovely to see water in the river again, after such a hot and dry summer time. In the northern hemisphere Easter signals new life after the barrenness of winter. For us in Western Australia, Easter often coincides with the break of the season from summer to autumn, and with the return of the water to the landscape new life emerges again.

The river managed to make a quite acceptable little babbling noise over the rocks, but you have to be still enough to hear it. Rushing about will only mean you miss the subtle beauty. There were other sounds too-monks quietly chanting psalms, wind in the trees and the exuberance of birds first thing in the morning.

On Sunday there were lots of alleluias, trumpets, cellos and organs, and of course the singing of the choir! DH and I were privileged to be asked to sing in the choir, and it was such a lovely thing to do.

Easter meant that we slowed right down, and made time to listen, and pray and reflect. We talked to people and to each other, wrote in our journals and read several books.

It was a wonderful celebration, and we hope to do it again next year.

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