Light on A Hill


Before leaving Canada and heading into Vermont we had the opportunity for visit the Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac on the west shore of Lake Memphremagog. The Abbey was founded in 1912 when a handful of exiled French monks arrived from Belgium, There are a  little more than fifty monks living under the Rule of Saint Benedict. Their lives are primarily focused on the search for God and on prayer, balanced with study, physical work and pastoral ministry.

Saint Benedict said that to be a true monk, one must live by the work of one’s hands. Such work is meant to provide for the needs of the monastery and to maintain a happy balance of mind and body. It also allows the monk to exercise and develop the many abilities God has given him, and to associate, after the example of Jesus himself in Nazareth and like the monks of long ago, to the Creator’s work.  The monks of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac assure their living above all by a cheese-factory, an orchard, a cider-factory, a farm and a store where their products are sold.

Walking the grounds of the Abbey and strolling throughout the ancient halls so filled with history I still was drawn most to the small stone Romanesque chapel on the grounds just outside. The steps beckoned me to return as the trees danced overhead. It was as if a love song played just for me, my song, calling me home. These are the steps I wanted to climb, running my hand along the worn railing and the old stone walls. How many have gone before me, how many have come to worship, to kneel in prayer or sing for joy? “Light on a Hill”, not just a building, a church, no…it’s so much more than that, it’s each of us, it’s a heart place, a heart space, reaching out and  reaching up, being the light for those around us, open doors, arms stretched wide…. loving one another.

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