During my last week of break, I was warmly invited to lunch at El Paular monastery by the Father Prior. What a treat!
Summer Thursdays the monks organize a paella lunch at the orchard and invite friends of the monastery. So, my friend Jaime and I drove over the Guadarrama mountains to the Lozoya Valley where the Monastery sits on an idyllic location, cradled by streams. We stopped for a coffee at the village of Rascafria before heading over to the old monastery.
We had a chance to walk around and even visit the gift shop. Then we went to one of the chapels for Sext prayers. After my few retreats and visits, I remembered knew how the Diurnal prayer book worked, something that always baffled me before. Then we headed over to the massive -now sadly abandoned- orchard. The barn has a massive porch that houses the long table where we all sit.
After the bell is rung three times, and the table is blessed, lunch includes some chips while lunch is brought out, a salad, the famous paella, melon and watermelon, sweets, coffee and after lunch liqueurs, including their own home made digestif. We sat next to John, one of the retreatants who happens to be the manager for Spain of the World Community for Christian Meditation, what a character, obviously we had a deep conversation.
After a walk around the orchard and the monastery, we sadly headed back over the mountains to Madrid, glowing with the inner peace that the monks imbue.