This past week, I had a wonderful opportunity to go away for a few days. I didn’t go far from my Brussels-area apartment, driving only some 90 km to the little town of Froidchapelle in the French-speaking part of southern Belgium. But the reality to get away was a treat. We rented a nice, cozy house. It needed to be cozy as it was cold and snowy all week.
Such time away allows for extra reflection, rest, reading, prayer, listening to God and just simple relaxation. Of course these things are a plus! And every time you have an opportunity to enjoy a few days like this, you always have high hopes of doing it again within the next few months. But so many things pop up, extra finances are not always available, and you just feel you need to get on with ‘the list’. So my prayer is that we take the opportunity again soon.
While we were away, we took a visit to the Scourmont Abbey just outside of Chimay, Belgium. I’ve only had the opportunity of visiting one abbey so far, the Orval Abbey, which I enjoyed. But I was looking forward to visiting the Chimay Abbey since they are responsible for making one of my favourite beers – Chimay Blue.
I have shared in the past on my theology of beer. I like beer, and even as a church leader, I don’t mind revealing such. I am not given to drunkenness or any such thing. That would be unacceptable. But I do enjoy beer. And I can only imagine the graciousness of God in sending me to a land with such great beer, all 1,498 of them. And, no I haven’t tried them all, just maybe 30 or so.
But, I think we all need to admit that those monks do know how to make their beer. Chimay is specifically known as a trappist beer. There are only seven of these in the world – six in Belgium, one in the Netherlands. They are known as trappist beers because they are made by trappist monks, a specific order of monks originating from La Trappe, France. You can read more about it here.
The interesting thing as well is that these trappist monks, at least the ones of Chimay, are also known for making cheese. And, just as the beer, the cheese is mighty fine as well (though a bit smelly). Both of these are a delight to enjoy at the restaurant not even 1 km away from the abbey. Yet, they are also available throughout Belgium, a good thing for me.
So, the time away was excellent, as it was much needed. Hearing from God, prayer, studying, reading, sleeping in and enjoying some of the Belgian culture. There is quite a lot available in this small land. I’m glad I’m sitting right in the midst of western Europe to enjoy as much as I can.