It was not all Gregorian chants

I had a visit at a monastery this week to introduce the idea of a hospice transition to a monk and his caregivers. I did a quick check of my clothes to ensure I was appropriately dressed and noting that I was not wearing a shoulder baring tube top and had chosen sensible footwear in place of my slilettos, I picked up the phone to schedule my visit. That's hospice talk for "appointment." I asked for him by name and the man on the other line said, "oh, you mean father such and such." Did I? I had no idea, but I agreed. I scheduled the visit for later that afternoon, but noted that this other monk really would have preferred for me to hold off until the real caretaker Father Goerge returned from a pilgrimage to Israel on Sunday. Then he hit me with this one. "if there are other visitors here you will be required to cover your head with a scarf and change into a long skirt, unless you have already done so." nope. I had left my school marm skirt and scarf at home. Gulp. I had some concerns.

On the ride over I wondered what etiquette exists within a monastery that I don't know about? Eye contact? Could I touch his arm? Shake his hand? What language would be acceptable? Where would we meet?

When I arrived and drove up the winding drive to the staggering building I was worried about more than a parking spot. When I pushed open the heavy from centuries ago door, I was instantly relieved that I had told Steve I was going there and that my supervisor knew my plan because it was just that creepy.

Dark. Hushed voices. Hallways to nowhere. Candles. 

Father such and such was sweet, but I couldn't help but feel like it was 1611, English accents and all. Very little eye contact. I touched his arm before I left and he didn't pull away, but i still don't ow if that was ok. I'm not sure they will be allowing the whole team into the monastery on a regular basis. I felt intrusive and while I didn't have to pull on a skirt or cover my head, I felt totally out of place. I was professional, but inside my head was ticking down the seconds until I could race back out the door, except I knew I could never find it on my own. This made those seconds tick even louder. I thought about where my phone was. It was the same feeling I have had in some scary places downtown, places I don't even like to drive through let alone pull up a chair and chat. They always tell us if we aren't comfortable to go, but should I have felt this way in a big ol' monastery? Probably not.

I'm dramatic, but this place creeped me out.


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