Have you ever dreamed of a place far away from it all;
Where the air you breathe is soft and clean;
And children play in fields of green;
And the sound of guns doesn’t pound in your ear…..
These are the opening lyrics to the title song of the movie ‘Lost Horizon’, composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The movie is based on a novel by James Hilton bearing the same title. It is about an idyllic paradise on earth, where people live happily, with no troubles, no worries, no enemies and no heartaches. Could such a place ever exist? Can we find this dream environment in a world that’s full of drudgery and pain?
Recently, in our quest to find peace of mind, better health and a time to rest our weary heads and hearts, my wife and I found ourselves knocking at the gate of an unfamiliar place. And we didn’t regret it! From the moment we set foot on the hallowed grounds of the Monastery of the Transfiguration, we felt a difference. I found my burden light. My shoulders straightened up from the lost load. I felt my face brighten up. Mysteriously, my sleeping habits normalized. A few days later, we left feeling so refreshed, so re-energized and eager to face the world again.
Indeed, the Monastery is a place for those who need to get away from the hurly-burly of the city-life. It is the place for those who may be confused with their lives, people who need spiritual rejuvenation, people who yearn for a special intimacy with God. It is a place for those who simply need to rest a bit. In the words of Bishop PACANA of Malaybalay: “Many people come to the Monastery to find comfort and strength in a life ‘heavily laden’ with all sorts of pain and suffering. The name Transfiguration suggests more than a place. It conjures up an experience of refreshment and empowerment to face life’s realities with deeper faith and hope.”
The Monastery of the Transfiguration lies in the foothills of San Jose, Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Its construction started in 1982, by local laborers led by a small group of Benedictine monks. The Benedictines live a contemplative life in their quest for Godliness, hence their days are filled with spiritual readings, manual labor and prayers. Since then, the Monastery has grown to be a spiritual center, providing facilities for retreats and recollections for both lay and religious.
The monks, as well as the Benedictine nuns in the neighboring area, have imbibed in themselves a love for agricultural advancement. They busy themselves by cultivating rice, corn, peanuts and coffee. In 1991, they began producing a high-quality ground coffee now popularly known as “Monks’ Blend Premium Coffee”. Their coffee beans have also been chosen by Selecta as the prime ingredient for their ‘Coffee Crumble’ line of ice cream. They produce high-quality local delicacies such as peanut brittle, polvoron, banana chips, cookies, and also promote the local weaving industry. All these items can be found in their quaint little gift shop.
So if you have the opportunity for a brief visit to Bukidnon, drop by the Monastery in Malaybalay. Surely, you will get some spiritual nourishment from your short stint. Or if you need some drastic change in environment; or quite simply, if you need a more meaningful soulful experience and enlightenment, come spend a few days at the Monastery. It is our little piece of Paradise here on earth.