By Sarah Jaber
It was during my writing class that I first had the opportunity to visit the University Abbey. As a Muslim and as someone who has never entered an abbey before, I didn’t know what to expect. Instantly, upon walking in, I sensed the serenity and peace present in the building. There were not many statues and posters, rather simple hallways and areas for deep contemplation. The man that took us on the tour struck me as a man who enjoys alone time and time to contemplate God and his creations.
One of the first things that were very interesting to see was the fountain in the center of the first hallway. The man claimed that this fountain was filled with holy water and reminded them of their baptism and commitment to finding God. ??After seeing the fountain, we went through a big hallway to one of the main prayer rooms. The monk said there are certain prayers that they must attend during the day. In between those prayers they are able to contemplate in some of the available rooms; he mentioned that he liked to take a quick trip around the forest with his bike.
To me, the monk seemed like a humble man who simply likes to stay away from the materialistic life and live a life only for the purpose of finding God. His simplicity echoed throughout the abbey as well, for it was not adorned with many embellishments, lights, or statues. He seemed like a man that found the beauty in the simplest of things and never took anything for granted. In the way he described his lifestyle, I could sense the sincerity and commitment. Religion did not matter at this point; I was simply amazed by his dedication and spirit.
This opened up my thinking about how I live my own life. I found that sometimes I am too attached to technology, to money, and to a social life that distracts me from dedicating some time to think and reflect on life, on religion, on family, on blessings. I realized that happiness is not something that is felt right away rather it is more like a journey. Happiness should not be our destination, but more like decoration to our own personal journeys.
Going to the abbey refreshed my view on living a simple and modest life. Extravagance is not always needed to live a life of happiness. It’s truly in the simplest of things that we can find true happiness. Simplicity makes us more aware of the important aspects of life, allows us to cherish every one of God’s blessings, and really permits us to delve inside ourselves and thrive. Solitude is not necessarily loneliness. Everyone can truly benefit from alone time.