Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Living as a Monk

Ashley Bruce
Thursday February 21st
Living as a Monk

            This afternoon after picking up the rental cars we headed off to the Monastery of Hosios Loukas which was about 3 hours north in Beotia, Greece. As soon as we left I dozed off into a deep sleep. After what felt about 5 minutes I was woken up by the car jerking me back and forth. We were on the curvy roads of the mountains. There were olive orchards, and trees that were blooming with lovely flower buds surrounding us. Finally we arrived at the monastery. Everyone had to be appropriately dressed respect to the Monks. To be appropriate you were to be fully clothed from head to toe with no legs, arms, or cleavage showing. The location of the monastery was purely beautiful. The monastery had bright reddish orange bricks which made it stick out from the unfathomable blue skies and the greens of the plants, trees, vegetation life, and the high peaks of the mountains.
            After we were greeted by the Abbot, we were then taken to the Church of the Theotokos to sit in and attend the church service. The church was very dark and dreary only being lit up by candle light. We sat there while they read their bible out loud. They were speaking Greek, and at this point in the trip I can usually pick out a few words in a conversation but they were reading so fast it sounded like one immense word. When the service was over, Ionanna took us around the church to look at the stunning decoration of the church. Even though it was fairly dark in the church we could still pick out what was what and who people were on the paintings. The gold mosaics were phenomenal. This church is known for their gold mosaics, and they were on every ceiling of each dome. Not only was the relic of St. Loukas, but we also even got to see his remains. To me, having seen his remains and knowing he was once an actually human being actually very creepy to me and made the chills run up my spine.
            Unlike anyone else, we were lucky enough to spend the night at the monastery. Ioanna just so happened to be friends with the Abbot.  The word Abbot is another word for Father. It is a title given to the head of a monastery. After being shown around the monks took us to sit around an enjoyable warm fire. As the heat was blazing and keeping us warm I drank some hot tea along with a few others. As dinner was being prepped and prepared for us, the smells of the food lingered into the room and made my tummy rumble. To pass the time quicker until dinner, we sat around and asked the monks everything we need to know about being a monk. The most interesting thing I acquired from asking them questions about themselves and the monastery was that once a monk has passed away they will bury him in the graveyard for 5 years, and after those five years pass they will then dig up his remains and put them in a room full of other monk remains. As for St. Loukas, his remains are kept in a glass coffin in the church of the monastery. Knowing all of this information really scared me, because it got to me thinking that the monastery could potentially be haunted!
            As 8 pm rolled around dinner was served.  We walked into the room and all of the food was sitting there on the table waiting for us to indulge into it. There were many types of cheeses, cheese pastries, cheese pies (they do love there cheese!), bread, potatoes, meats, and so many more options. My favorite part of the meal was the pork. The pork was fresh and we had to eat it right off the bone. Talking about it right now is just making my mouth water. We were then served two different types of dessert. The first dessert served was a reddish orange color fruit covered in sticky sweet honey. The texture of the fruit tasted almost like a pear. The second dessert served to us was a brownish jelly type form dessert with almonds in it. The texture of this kind of freaked me out, and it wasn’t my favorite thing and I will probably never eat it again.
            After we were excused from dinner we went to our rooms. The boys and the girls were separated by buildings due to the rules of the monastery. I ended up sleeping on a cot, and it was actually pretty comfortable! I slept like a baby. Overall, this was a great experience and not many people can say that they have lived as a monk and slept at a monastery for a night but I can honestly say I could never live like a monk! 

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