Lovers of the Land. We celebrate the Place.
From the earliest times, Christian monks have always had a special relationship to the land. We Cistercians take a vow of “Stability” which binds us to this particular place and this particular community. In 1098, our first Cistercian Fathers, like the desert monks before them, searched for a place far from the haunts of men. This tradition continued when in 1944 on March 21st, the monks came to Conyers, a place relatively far from the “haunts of men” as well. They settled on this 2,300 acres of rural land on which cotton had been grown for a number of years. The property itself was somewhat diverse, including fields, second growth forest, and a good bit of swampland. They first lived in a barn for nine months while they built a temporary pineboard monastery then built the permanent concrete monastery.
Out of their labors and toils there arose this contemplative oasis where the sounds of silence and prayer mix together with that of the birds and bees and deer and all the other creatures of the wild singing their songs of praise to God. A river runs through this land, as do creeks and streams. The dogwood, pine, and oak, deeply rooted, find strength against the raging winds as the monk plants his own roots with his vow of “stability” that bid him stay, pray, grow deep, to find himself and his God. Here in this “School of the Lord’s Service” he practices his spiritual craft, trusting in the providence of God who has called him. Each new day he says “here I will pray, here in this place I will stay”.
In celebrating this place, we continue the Cistercian tradition of good stewards of the land and are committed to protecting nature as God created it. 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 “green space” as a cherished commodity.
The monastery implemented progressive ways to preserve the land through forest management and conservation easements. We launched a conservation “natural” burial ground on the property 5 years ago, that has burials available to all on land that is protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement. The recent establishment of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, a protected green space, allows a greater number of visitors to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the monastery property. The new pedestrian and bike trail winds through a portion of the monastery’s woodlands, bringing many new visitors to the site which is a key gateway for the Heritage Area, indeed its spiritual gateway.
Next: We celebrate our friends and benefactors.