Schiermonnikoog – A Retreat on ‘The Island of the Grey Monks’

I’ve just come back from eight ‘island days’. A very welcome break from the daily routine here at Oosterbeek.

The small community of Trappist monks on the tiny island of Schiermonnikoog (Island of the Grey Monks), off the northern coast of the Netherlands, offer true Benedictine hospitality to all who seek a day, or longer, ‘away from it all’, to enter into silence and to join the community in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Another, equally small, community of Carmelites, searching to give contemporary shape to the contemplative charism of the order, have taken up residence at a stone’s throw from the Trappist monastery and regularly join the latter for the major hours of prayer.

It was a balm for the soul to be with them both and to be immersed into the prayerful silence of the monastic community, quite organically overflowing into wonderment at the manifold natural beauties of the island and the soothing murmur of the sea beyond.

‘Awe’ and ‘Surrender’ quietly suggested themselves as themes to ponder. Long walks on the vast, nearly deserted, beaches surrounding the island seemed to mirror an inner space where a mysterious Presence, more longed for than felt, could find a home.

I feel refreshed and grateful for the opportunity offered.

Fons Eppink MHM

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