In need of solitude, I enter the secluded, bucolic world of the Cistercian monks of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia where I find rest for my body and renewal for my soul.  

The monastery offers a comprehensive and exciting program of activities including photography workshops, lectures on family relationships and even seminars on the lives of the saints, their writings and spiritual disciplines. On the occasion of my visit, they were holding a retreat on the mystic, Julian of Norwich (1342 - ca 1416).
The mystics have always intrigued me. The stories of their lives have been like a fountain I visit again and again to quench my spiritual thirst. Not much is known of Saint Julian of Norwich. However, her work Revelations of
Divine Love;
 Essays on Divine Loving, contemplates the suffering of mankind and insights on the Holy Trinity that are as deep and intellectually rigorous as those of St. Teresa of Avila.
In the course of those three days I would learn to appreciate silence, to get up before dawn for the sole purpose of prayer and meditation, to work in the garden, harvesting squash, tomatoes and cucumbers, and making of my work a spiritual offering. Also several times a day, I would sing the Psalms with the monks in the sanctuary of the monastery.

Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery OCSO

2625 Highway 212 S.W. Conyers, GA 30094-4044


The monastery is a half hour from the Atlanta airport. I was handed the keys to my small, sparse cell as soon as I arrive. There was a window overlooking a little graveyard packed with white crosses that mark the places where the monks left behind their toils in this world and received their everlasting rest.
The view of the burial ground gave me great peace. The guilelessness of the crosses beckoned me down while there was still some daylight for a brief moment of meditation among the graves. I looked for an exit and headed quickly for a huge brick wall where I took the semicircular path towards the graveyard. The silence let me have a few minutes of the harmony that is so difficult to find in our busy life.
Just before dinner, I met Brother Callistus Crichlow, who would be my guide and connection to the cloister. It is then that I became aware that I had unintentionally violated the privacy and exclusion of the cloister by I entering the graveyard. The monastery has its public areas, places for guests on retreat like me, and the cloister where the monks live.