Opening the door…..Arriving at the Monastery….!
“As the fish perishes on dry land, so you perish when you get entangled in the world. The fish must return to the water and you must return to the Spirit.” Wisdom from the Distilled by Joan Chittister OSB
As I sat in the airport in Düsseldorf, hearing in German that the plane to Munich was arriving late, I thought to myself, ‘What time am I going to arrive to the monastery?’ It is already late. And it was so! I arrived in Munich around 9:30 at night. The late Summer Sun was setting in the West. It would be dark by the time I got to the Monastery. Besides, there would be no taxi at this time, no welcome except perhaps a locked Monastery Door.
As I got off the train in the last station of Geltendorf, two kilometers from the Monastery, it was horribly dark, and the few passengers who were on the train with me left the station in their cars. Indeed, no taxi and no welcoming committee. So, I unfolded my bike and set to bike my way in the dark with two back packs (one on my back and another in front) plus the bike bag over my shoulder. I looked like a peddler selling my wares, but without the horse and cart.
It was pitch dark. Fortunately I remembered the gravel road path to the Monastery. It was so dark I could only see a few feet in front of me, no monastery in sight. I set off into the dark woods hoping I was on the right path. It was already 11:00 pm surely the Monks were in bed. As I started on my bike the road was blocked at night to any traffic. I crossed the roadblock hoping that there were no flooded areas, as I could see that it had just rained earlier. With only the little light of my i-phone I rode my way into the dark night.
After about 1 1/2 Kilomoters, I saw the red light of the local ‘Feuerwehr’ the Firestation dedicated to St Flavian. I knew then that I Was safe and had arrived to St Ottillien Monastery. As I arrived to the doors of the Monastery, I wondered if I would have to sleep outside till the morning. I noticed a light in a window and tried to yell politely, ‘is anyone there?’ To my surprise it was the Abbots bedroom and he looked out of the window and yelled ‘someone will open up’. In a few moments the Prior Pater Timotheus opened the door to let me in with the words, ‘Welcome Vincent, it is good to see you!’ Tired, sweaty, jetlagged, and exausted, I knew that I had arrived again at the Door of the Monastery. The fish had returned to the water.
Commentary: All monasteries have “the Door”. It is where hospitality is first practiced. It is where the stranger is welcomed. It is where the new Monastic is received for the first time when considering entering the Monastery. It is figuratively and symbolically the door to the sacred and holy, which we all seek, where God opens and greets us warmly.
“Seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened unto you.”
Arch-abbot Wolfgan blesses the door of the Abby Church to begin the ‘year of mercy’