It often happens when I am forced to spend much time alone that I wander through my memories. That great file cabinet of remembrances about times past; childhood, times as a young adult and life as a wife and mother, friends, and good times and those not so.
But more often than those wanderings through old stuff, I dream up ideas of what I can do now, the time I have present right before me.
Carefully sequestered for four months I itched to escape the boundaries set by my home, the grocery store and the mailbox. Where could I go, I mused? What did I want to accomplish and could I remain safe from the reach of the dreaded coronavirus?
I drew a somewhat wide circle around my home location and felt it led to the possibility of a short road trip. Inside the circle were the words, Blue Cloud Abbey. The abbey originated by Benedictine monks in 1959 near Milbank, South Dakota, would be my destination. Three hours away by car, one overnight in Milbank for a respite from the confines of home and two companions who I knew to be healthy and free to travel – the plan was made. We set out looking for a small senior adventure!
Our research told us the abbey was not now Benedictine-owned but was now a non-denominational retreat center. When we arrived it could not have been a better presentation of a peaceful, contemplative space. It stood completely alone on a far-looking hill with a river behind and fields strewn with wildflowers. Abbey bells rang out the hour and we walked the grounds around the golden brick church.
The old Blue Cloud Abbey, now re-named Abbey of the Hills, proved to be a place of quiet and hope and thankfulness for a safe place to spend some time. It looked to be a possible site for church youth groups to make retreats away from distractions.
We are more than thankful to those monks who brought their dream of service to South Dakota.