Leap Year Lesson #42: Sometimes You Need a Place To Get Away

Posted: February 11, 2012 in Work-Life Balance

One of my favorite places to get away is The Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky. It is home to a community of Trappist monks, a silent order which means that in most areas no talking is allowed. The signs posted for guests and visitors make this plain.

One or two weeks per year I go there on a Monday and return on Friday. I made my reservation this week for a week next month, my fourth in the past 3 years and one that will complete my desire to experience the place during all four seasons. While there, I have a small, simple room in the guest house or in the monk’s wing. There is no television, no radio, no internet, no music except that which is sung a cappella during the worship services (which I admit to almost always skipping).

While there I sleep when my body tells me to sleep. I eat most of the 3 meals per day they provide cafeteria style (no talking there either), experimenting with foods I would not normally eat. I exercise in my room. I go on walks in the woods and at least once to “the statues” which are large, magnificent sculptures of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemani and of some disciples sleeping off in the distance. You have to take quite a hike in the woods to get to the small clearing where these wonderful statues are on a hillside. Listen to the Andrew Peterson song “The Silence of God” and you’ll hear a reference to them.

The rest of the time I read my Bible, pray and memorize Scripture verses. I take nothing else with me to read or to do. It is a time to disconnect from the hustle of daily life, to reconnect with the Source of all life, and to rejuvenate from within. Some think I’m crazy for doing it. That’s OK.

The place you love to get away to has to be your own and what you do there to rejuvenate yourself is likely different than what I do. But I bet we can agree on the value of leap year lesson #42 – Sometimes you need a place to get away.

  1. Mary Gutwein says:

    I love Gesthemani! I went there once when I was in Louisville, but never did a retreat. I imagine it’s very refreshing!

  2. Jeff Ross says:

    That it is, Mary – very!

  3. Raleigh says:

    Great post. I agree that if you do not take time away from the everyday grind, you will lose sight of what is important. I know that for me, planned “sanity breaks” have helped me to keep my everyday duties in the right perspective. The Abbi at Gethsemane is the perfect location for one such break. ps: I listened to the silence of God this morning and can’t to go back there!

  4. Tom White says:

    Jeff I thought of you today. I found some pre fabbed base cabinets(white finish like yours in your basement). Im going to put these in and build my own shelves ontop of them again like yours.When I took them out of the box I stood just looking with my mouth hung wide open taking note of how many screws there were to put these things together. This is when I thought that this would be a good lesson for you to post one day , but then I read this lesson for today and all of my thoughts about these cabinets were gone. What you wrote today beats all the rest. I read this and then read it again to Sheila. This is so something that would appeal to me.I feel that everyone needs a chance to totally clear their heads. I would deffinately do this.

  5. Jeff Ross says:

    Tom, I heartily recommend it. You don’t have to go for a week. You can go for a day or a weekend or whatever you like. Then you just pay them what you want to pay them before you leave. They don’t have any set charge even though they’re supplying a room and three square meals a day. They do it as a ministry of hospitality, but of course I try to leave them a fair donation at the end. It’s a wonderful experience.

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