After touring the church and hearing a history of the monastery, I set out to explore the grounds. The church was breathtaking, but there was more to see.
Immediately in front of the church was the cemetery, full of sisters and situated between trees dotting the lawn.
To the west was a building that used to house new sisters, but these days only 1 or 2 women enter the order per year. So, as Sister Christine explained on the tour, the building is being renovated. Instead of housing new sisters, two-bedroom apartments would house seniors.
The lawn labyrinth was nowhere to be found. I suspect it was a casualty of the building renovation.
I sought out the gift shop. And then I meandered to the lake to relax on one of the benches surrounding it. I listened to the frogs and enjoyed the day coming to a close.
Nearby were three outdoor spots for spiritual contemplation under the trees: the rosary steps, a grotto of the Lady of Lourdes, and stations of the cross. I started to take my time with them, slipping into contemplative practice from previous years and previous stations of the cross. Unfortunately, I couldn’t linger. The mosquitoes had already claimed these spots. I ran fleeing them.
I went in search of the balcony bench that Sister Christine spoke of and enjoyed some quiet contemplation of the sunset sans mosquitoes (though not sans mosquito bites). As Sister Christine promised, the view lent itself to long drawn out gazing.
But the big kid called to me. I took turns running up and down the spiral staircases in the turrets at each end of the balcony. Fun! The perfect place to play hide and seek. Sister Christine was right. Kids of all sizes and ages love running up and down them. 🙂