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Schiermonnikoog – Grey Monks’ Island

A few years ago a small band of Trappist monks moved from a large – surplus to requirements – abbey near Deventer in The Netherlands to the small island of Schiermonnikoog off the northern coast. They thus revived an ancient monastic presence. (Schiermonnikoog in the local dialect means “grey monks’ island”)

Their very modest small monastery on the edge of the eponymous little village (inhabitants 600) on the island provides welcome space for just five guests.

I went to check it out for a week of quiet, inner silence and prayer. Unplugging all media contact – tv, newspapers, mobile, internet – proved a real tonic. Maybe there is a latent hermit in all of us?

The liturgy of the hours faithfully sung – if at times delightfully (!) off tune – by the small community of monks gave structure to my days. The wide open spaces, the exceptionally large sandy beaches and the infinite horizon beyond, opened up a somewhat clogged up inner space.

‘To you belongs silence – a song of praise’. Ps 65: 1

Fons Eppink mhm

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