I spent this weekend at a monastery in Orval, Belgium.

Yes, a monastery. It was actually a lot like I expected it would be, but there are some things that surprised me:

1. Some monks were super friendly, while others barley looked at us

2. Having your day interrupted by prayer every couple of hours provides structure to your day, but I can see how they could also be just plain annoying

3. Some monks come to the order later in life, after having lived “normally” for many years

4. Monks can brew a mean beer and they’ve got that aging process DOWN for cheese!

5. The 8:30pm curfew

The nicest part about this place was getting away from the city. I especially appreciated the smells of burning firewood and the sounds that the trees made when the wind blew. I’d forgotten how loud rustling autumn leaves could be. My fellow traveler, Ben, and I got a chance to explore the forest behind the ruins of the old Medieval monastery, the first in Orval.

Getting away from the hustle and bustle of Paris gave me time to think. I spent a lot of time organizing my mental training for fencing and creating a meditation schedule.  For some reason being in a city and being at home with all my creature comforts prevents me from doing these things, which I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time. The challenge is now sticking to the schedule now that I’m back in the city, and distracted by things like the grocery store, my work, my training, errands that need to be run, people jetting from here to there, and the biggie- the Internet. We’ll see what happens! (This, ironically, is one of the positive affirmations I added to my list while in Orval.)Image160