365: Day 119 – Mont La Salle

My “Sacred Road” post a few days ago reminded me of my visit to Mont La Salle which is the regional headquarters (if you will) or the Lasallian Christian Brothers on the west coast. This was also through my high school campus ministry.

After a drive up through the a winding road through the forest in these sierras surrounding Napa Valley, I step out of the van into a chilly and misty morning and in front of me is this beautiful complex that is anchored by a lovely chapel. The area is completely surrounded by forest and vineyards. The silence is remarkable. The grounds are immaculately kept and it has that undeniable air of being a place of spirituality, religion, and worship. I split off from the group a few times to take in the beauty of this place. I step in to the empty chapel and towards the back there is both the organ console and a piano. I invite myself to a seat at the organ and briefly an excerpt from Bach’s Toccata and Fugue. The pipe organ comes alive and the sizable chapel vibrates with the power of the organ, so I quickly stop as I’m sure the sound of this powerful instrument carries into the grounds outside. Loving the cathedral-like acoustics, I walk over to the piano, open the lid, and sit myself in front of it and start to play mostly a few movements from Beethoven’s sonatas and a couple of versions of the Ave Maria. I lose track of time and in walks one of the Christian Brothers and does a small clap when I finally notice him. I am a little embarrassed as this is really unlike me to take the liberties of helping myself to these two beautiful instruments but I the experience was well worth the embarrassment.

I then step outside and start of a path that buries itself into the tree-covered hillside. I enter it and begin to make my way up the hill. As I walk contemplating the trees along the path I notice a statue of Jesus and by the next statue I realize that these statues are the stations of the cross. By the time I reach the station where Jesus dies on the cross I notice a clearing up ahead and at this clearing you reach the final station of the cross where Jesus is laid in the tomb and the clearing before me is the cemetery where Christian Brothers have been laid to rest. It is so beautiful it gives me chills and makes me a little emotional.

I pause in silence and contemplation and quietly follow the patch back down in self-reflection and in a newfound perspective.