Lovers of the Land...
From the earliest times Christian monks have always had a special relationship to the land. One of the ancient monastic vows we still take today is the vow of "Stability." This vow binds us to a particular place and a particular Community. In 1098, our first Cistercian Fathers, like the desert monks before them, searched for a place far from the haunts of men. They described themselves as "lovers of the place and of the brothers."
In 1944, when this monastery was founded it was relatively far from the "haunts of men" as well.
The monks settled on a piece of land where cotton had been grown for a number of years. At the time, there were still a scattering of sharecroppers' houses located around the almost 2,000 acre property. The property itself was somewhat diverse, including fields, second growth forest, and a good bit of what was then called swamp. When the monks, hoping to follow their agricultural roots, sent a soil sample to the University of Georgia, they were told "to make bricks."
Eventually, the dirt road was replaced with a paved state highway. Today we find ourselves trying to preserve some semblance of a rural setting while being surrounded by a growing suburbia. Trappist Monasteries around the country and abroad have a unique and beautiful setting. Many had a natural beauty to start with; others were transformed under the loving hands of the monks. Beauty, however, and some bit of solitude are both necessary ingredients for our style of contemplative life.
It can be argued that 2,000 acres is an excessively large area to create a beautiful solitude for contemplative life. However, after years of prayerful discernment we continue to believe that the property is not just for us but is a treasure that needs protecting for future generations - not only for monks, but for all who see "greenspace" as a cherished commodity, and for all those who hunger for places of solitary beauty.
With this in mind, we have in the last 20 years, and more actively in the last 5 years, made a number of decisions concerning land use that would ensure its restoration and protection, as well as, our continuing presence here on this property we have grown to love.