It was nearly one year ago that finally, after years of putting it off, I visited the Benedictine community with which I most identify. I had just left my job and was moving abroad looking for a better life for my family (which I had to leave behind for the time being) – it seemed quite opportune. A brief retreat, some days of silence and prayer, seemed to be in order to prepare for the new phase.
When I arrived at Dublin airport – and saw for the first time in my life signs in both English and Gaelic, something quite strange and foreign to me – I still could not believe that I was just a short while away from meeting “my” Benedictines. When I got on the bus to Stamullen and was riding through the countryside I still could not believe. Not even when D. Benedict (with whom I had talked so many times on-line) and D. Michael (then Br. Andre) came to pick me up at the bus stop, could I believe it. As the van made its way and we finally reached the gates, I could make out the stone plaque which read “Silverstream Priory”. “Am I really here,” I thought to myself, “is this really happening?” Yes, it was. I was finally among my own.
I made the acquaintance of the whole community upon arrival, as well as others staying at Silverstream, except for Father Prior, who was out at the time. After getting settled in I was showed around and it was then that I finally met Father Prior, D. Mark Kirby. I was finally face to face with the man with whom I had corresponded over the years after my return to the Church, the man who I could truly call my spiritual father. It filled me with great joy to be able to finally meet him in person.
Time has somewhat blurred the lines between the days that I spent at Silverstream. Yet what I recall most vividly, apart from the monks, is the Liturgy. I tried as best as I could to keep the community’s Horarium, trying to be present for all the Hours; I was “brave” enough to make it a couple of times to Matins, fighting against sleep and cold in the dead of night to make my way down to the oratory. The routine is something you come to love – there is a certian stability/security that comes from it. One knew that when the bell rang that it was time to come together, to unite ourselves in prayer, to be lifted up among the heavenly choir of angels in their singing of praises to the thrice holy Lord. The silence (as much as is possible in a priory undergoing renovations) was also a great comfort. And so the days were spent between prayer, reading, and walking about the property. I felt very much at peace during those fleeting few days; I felt as though I had come home. Though I had left my wife and daughter behind, whom I love very much and had no idea when I would see them again, still I felt very much at home at Silverstream – I felt among family. I could not help but chuckle when Father Prior refered to me as one of the ones “that got away” (I recall he was a bit surprised when I told him I was getting married).
I left renewed, strengthened for the long journey ahead, not knowing when I would see my family again; unaware of the hardships that lay ahead, but trusting in the Lord’s Providence, as well as in the continual prayers of these monks who were (and are) so close to my heart. I hope one day to be able to visit again, to share with my wife and children the joy that I experienced there.