Now that a stressful, demanding and exhausting holiday season is over, it’s time to turn the focus inward. Imagine finding a place where leaving the distractions of the world behind is possible and pursuing inner peace is tantamount.
Across the country a number of such places exist.
In fact, one doesn’t have to go far from DeKalb County to find a retreat promising solitude and a place for reflection.
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is a contemplative oasis nestled in rural Conyers, where 40 Trappist monks live, work and pray, and they welcome visitors to take a break from hectic lives.
The monastery is a Roman Catholic community belonging to the worldwide Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, more commonly known as Trappists. It is the first native-born Trappist foundation in the United States.
The Monastery sits on more than 2,300 acres in Conyers, 25 miles southeast of Atlanta.
The new Monastic Heritage Center, a 17,000-square-foot museum showcases the history of the monastery. It brings together all of the public spaces on the monastery grounds, including the Visitor Center, Historic Barn, Bonsai Garden and Prayer Walk.
In 1944, 21 Trappist monks departed from Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky to found a monastery in Conyers. The monks lived in a barn on part of the old Honey Creek Plantation and began work on the Abbey Church, a massive concrete structure that took 15 years to complete, as well as many of the buildings that stand on the site today.
The monastery attracts more than 70,000 visitors annually.
The monks strive to be self-sustaining and to have enough money to feed the local poor. They bake biscotti and fruitcake and make fudge and stained glass, which they sell to visitors.
Also open to the public is the Garden Café and Abbey Gift Shop and the largest Christian bookstore in the state.
The monastery offers group and individual midweek and weekend retreats as well as day visits. Among the topics covered in upcoming retreats:
• Vocation Discernment, Jan. 6-8
• Contemplative Prayer, Jan. 13-15
• The Monk Within, Feb. 10-12
• Surrendering to Love, Feb. 20-23
“Some retreats provide a quiet and contemplative atmosphere conducive to prayer and reflection while others offer opportunities for sharing and mutual support,” according to the monastery’s website. “These individual and group retreat experiences inspired by the Cistercian Spirituality offer retreatants time to simply be with God in love and listen to him speak personally through the Scriptures. …you will have solitary time for prayer, journaling, discerning, and quiet meditation in nature by our lakes, on our lawns, and on our peaceful walking trails.”
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is located at 2625 Highway 212 SW in Conyers.
For more information on the monastery and its retreat schedule, visit www.trappist.net or call (770) 760-0959.