Monday, November 24, 2008

Mt. Angel Abbey

About a week ago, my boyfriend and I took a morning to visit the abbey and grounds in Mt. Angel, Oregon. After an entertaining drive up (and quick stop for donuts--of course), we found ourselves parked on a hill, cold morning air stirring the trees, and near silence all around. With the exception of a leaf blower across the lawn (okay, so not quite silent), we didn't see anyone walking around. There were no signs to point us to the bookstore or the museum. We simply wandered around outside until we found the chapel.

The chapel isn't your ordinary chapel. The inside reminds me of a princess' castle with the lavender and bubble-gum-pink paint on the walls. It's beautiful! And the pink marble columns only add to the richness of the orange and golden wood pews. Behind the seats and up in the loft is a giant pipe organ that I can only imagine sounds like a whole choir and orchestra at the same time. On either side of the pews are little alcoves with statues or paintings of saints or other people. Beyond the transept, the brothers gathered for midday prayers and chanted their prayers in English (though I only understood about every third or fourth word). We were two of maybe ten people sitting in about fifty pews, so it's safe to say there was plenty of seating. What a cool experience!

The bookstore is small but well stocked. They have tons of great literature, rosaries hanging on every corner and in cases, plenty of medals, and some neat stuff I'd never seen before. We probably spent as much time in the bookstore just looking around as we did in the small museum. Speaking of the museum, I think that's the smallest "museum" I've been in. They had a couple interesting items (especially the liturgical vestments and Asian writing tools), but the eight-legged calf and the two-headed sheep weren't necessary. The pig hairballs were pretty gross. I did enjoy seeing the fine china display, though, and the mounted animals were kind of cool.

We also ventured over to the library. My boyfriend and I love books, so it was a fantastic place to visit. The architecture is pretty neat if one likes modern architecture (lots of natural light, open shelving, and sparse decoration). I had a fun time looking down one shelf and seeing how many languages I could find. We saw everything from Hebrew to Russian there, plus some books dating back to the early 1800s just sitting there waiting to be read. How cool!

I'm so glad we made the trip up there: I learned, experienced, and had a great time!

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