Posted on March 3, 2015
Seeking Serenity at Mepkin Abbey
March is typically one of my favorite months, because it means SPRING is soon here, but lately we find ourselves wondering if it will ever stop raining, and if we will ever see the sun again? To take our minds off the everlasting dreary Winter, this past weekend we took a little day trip to Moncks Corner, about an hour’s drive from Charleston. Our first order of business for the day was, of course, lunch: an all you can eat BBQ buffet at A&M Brown’s for $10.50 is hard to beat. It is worth the drive to Moncks Corner just for this. After lunch we took the 15 minute drive over to Mepkin Abbey, a trappist monastery following the rule of St. Benedict. There are currently sixteen monks at Mepkin, and they devote their lives to prayer, spiritual study, work and hospitality.
Whether or not religion plays a role in your life, it is well worth a trip to observe this beautiful, serene and peaceful place. Our visit was during “Camellia Season,” but “Azalea Season” is coming up pretty soon and I imagine when the grass gets greener (and the sun comes out), the place probably just glows. Take a tour with Father Joe and try to imagine living a life of solitude and mostly silence.
The property is stunning, and was generously donated to the Monastery by the Luce family in 1949. It is bordered on one side by the Cooper river, and the gardens and grounds are kept immaculate by volunteers. It’s possible to book a spiritual retreat if you’re so inclined, and retreatants observe the same silence and vegetarian diet, in the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance tradition, as the monks. The “work” aspect of the monks’ lives is growing fresh and dried Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms, which are available to buy in the visitor’s center and local grocery stores. I can attest to the mushrooms’ excellence in quality and flavor and am happy to support their peaceful lives of devotion. I’m also a huge fan of the coffee sold onsite and by mail order.
Since crowds aren’t really my thing, I couldn’t be happier that there seemed to be virtually no one else wandering the grounds this time of year but us. I imagine this changes come Spring, but we were quite pleased to swoon over the camellias and have the live oaks all to ourselves.