When I visited the Abbey of Montserrat outside of Barcelona, Spain a few years ago, I remember thinking, "What would it be like to live in a place that hosts hundreds and hundreds of visitors every week---to have the public walking around your monastery all the time?" Montserrat, as the center of the Catalonian culture, has a huge basilica, museum, famed boys choir, and retreat house and grounds which attract visitors 24-7. They stream up the mountain on tram cars and buses every day of the year---and the community of monks minister to them with constant patience and kindness.
We are getting a very small idea of what that might be like as the past three weeks have brought groups of visitors into our house every day to view the Saint John's Bible exhibit. I believe they are usually confined to afternoon and early evening hours, but on weekends it seems like they are here all day long!
Don't get me wrong, it's been absolutely great but it has also brought out our creativity to try to find new paths around the house to get from one place to the other without having to navigate the crowds! The best bet is to take the high road (2nd floor) or the low road (basement) that are generally reserved to just us!
Saturday morning there was a large group from down in the diocese and as we've been granted a surprise "gift from the weather gods" of three consecutive days of bright sun and 65+ degree temperatures, I thought that since they were going around the inside of our house, I'd take a trip around the outside! Here's how early November is looking in some of my favorite places:
Three shots from our Garden of Memories: I've photographed this little tree a couple of other times. Here it is with blossoms almost gone. Still beautiful.
I think these were hydrangea. Still such large balls of petals. Now tan.
Our large, broad swatches of Black-eyed Susans are now just black eyes!
Around the corner I peeked into the greenhouse and found some geraniums.
Notice what's different about this view of the back of our place? No dumpsters! Finally removed this week. Hopes are high that the great move-back will be in late December or mid-January at the latest. Guests will be welcomed back where they belong: in our guest rooms.
Coming around the west side, this large willow on the west lawn is the last tree to cling to its greenness. If you enlarge this you can see the bare trees across the street and some of the evergreens throughout the west lawn that now draw all the attention.
Don't know if I've ever shared this Pax cornerstone to commemorate the chapel revision. It's right in the front corner of the house. Highly visible.
And, finally, a walk in the inner courtyard found much the same as outside, except for this lone morning glory, right behind Mary.
My November-December "Light Through Stained-Glass Windows" column in our diocese's Faith magazine. See page 15.