To Switzerland & Back

When I first came to Rome, I noticed that going to the great outdoors required more of a trip than I’d like.  The city is huge and any park or nature-esque part of Rome is full of pigeons and dogs.  I like pigeons and dogs…it’s what they leave behind that’s not so fun.

Luckily, a neighbor of mine here at the NAC knew about a beautiful place to stay in Switzerland: the Benedictine Monastery at Einsiedeln.  Myself and three others left on a Thursday as soon as classes were out and took a flight right into Zurich.  As soon as we stepped out of the plane, the fresh, crisp air of Switzerland greeted us.  Being a lover of the cold, I knew it was going to be a great trip.  We hopped on a train and travelled to the city of Einsiedeln, arriving at the monastery at about 8PM.  The building is gigantic and was built over 1,000 years ago.  The monks had a great meal set out for us full of bacon wrapped sausages, soup, and countless other delicacies (Admittedly, all I can think about is the bacon, so I will leave out the rest.)

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The front of the Benedictine monastery.

The next day, we left for the mountain Grosser Mythen, meaning Great Myths in German.  It took about an hour to hike to the top and it was definitely a workout.  The view from the top was breathtaking.  It’s not everyday (except for Mass!) that we see things that can immediately stop a conversation because of their beauty, but we had definitely found one of them.  We could see snow covered mountains off in the distance and an airplane even flew around the peak twice before taking off again.  There really are no words to describe the view.

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Last summer, at my grandma Syble’s funeral, I was able to play “Amazing Grace” on two flutes that I had made.  I promised my family that I would put a video up of the song, and it only took me a year and a half to get it done.  We took the video from the top of the mountain with the beautiful scenery in the background.  The video turned out well and it was a great way for me to honor my grandparents.  Grandpa Vernon and Grandma Syble were great people and they are dearly missed by the family.  They were a true blessing to us.

Before we hiked back down, we were able to take a few more photos.  We had to leave in a hurry to catch the bus back to the monastery.  It was hard for us to tear ourselves away from the view.

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Left to right: Andrew Burns, Luke Brown, Lemmuel Comacho, Jamie McCormick.

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Totally a pose, definitely not a natural snapshot.

After that, we had a few relaxing evenings in the monastery and made a trip out to Luzern, Switzerland with a new friend we made at the monastery.  The Friday we were there was All-Saints Day followed by All-Souls Day on Saturday.  The Benedictines were incredible singers and their liturgy was beautiful.  People aren’t allowed to take pictures of their chapel so I don’t have any to put up.  In Rome, it’s difficult to pray in the churches because, at most hours of the day, they are noisy with the bustle of tourists and cameras.  At the monastery, they make it clear that it’s a space for prayer and worship instead of a tourist attraction.  No matThe Benedictines themselves were very hospitable and we even had the chance to sit down and eat with their former Abbot.  We ate homemade cheese, drank homemade wine, and had some great fraternity in our time at Einsiedeln.

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The horses I found out back of the monastery; a great reminder of home.

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A Crucifix we found in the cemetery behind the monastery where we prayed for the departed souls on All-Souls Day.

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My friend Andrew Burns doing his best Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati impression.

“Verso l’alto!” -Frassati (To the heights!)

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Front of the monastery at night.

School has been going well.  The newness has passed and now I actually know who my teachers are and that even though espresso shots are only 60 cents at the school coffee bar, you can still spend a lot of money if you drink enough.  There’s a tradition that the second year men buy coffee and donuts for the first year men on their first day.  Although their repeated generosity throughout the morning was much appreciated, 6 shots of espresso can take their toll.  Long story short, I thought if I tried to speak italian faster to people that they would understand what I said.  Also, turns out that if an Italian doesn’t speak english, speaking english words with an italian accent won’t make them understand either.  Who knew?  The teachers at my school are great.  There’s one teacher, Father Lobo, who’s a very entertaining teacher.  When the bell rang, we all walked in and sat down.  He told us that he expected us to be seated and ready to go when the bell rang rather than walking in after.  He was mid-sentence when the bell rang to let us out so he didn’t hear it.  I raised my hand and told him that it rang and he dismissed us.  I told him outside that since he likes to START when the bell rings, we like to END when the bell rings.  We laughed a little and then he announced what I said to the class as the next hour was starting.  Now, he looks at me every time the bell rings and wants me to raise my hand to let him know, “Yep, that was the bell.”

Someone recently asked me, after telling them about South Dakota, if I ever wanted to go back after experiencing a big city and seeing all that the culture has to offer outside of South Dakota.  They laughed, but didn’t catch why I just smiled and shook my head.  I don’t think they could understand the community and the life that being from small-town USA has to offer.  I explained to them the help that all the ranchers were giving each other after the freak blizzard that happened, and they found it hard to believe that people would help each other so much.  I told them about our great teachers who work for very little money and the work ethic and passion that spurs people on in hardships.  Also, I told them about our crazy sport called rodeo that they found especially entertaining…  Big cities are great and there’s much to enjoy and cherish, but the small town community and scenery of South Dakota will always be home for me.

I’m glad to hear that the recovery is going well in South Dakota after Storm Atlas.  After talking to my parents, it sounds like things are good on the home front.  My nephew Everett is getting baptized soon and my brother has asked me to be his godfather.  What I delight it is to see the videos that my sister-in-law Mandi puts up on Facebook and hear stories about him.  It sounds like he’s growing fast!  I hope that things are well for all of you and that the preparations for winter are coming along.  Please know of my prayers for the folks of South Dakota, and please say a prayer for me!

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2 thoughts on “To Switzerland & Back

  1. dennisranch says:

    Thank you for this post…I was born in Switzerland and hope to see it before i die…wonderful music… it’s so great to see the musical traditions of your family being carried on!

    Robert Dennis

  2. Anonymous says:

    Going to show the kids your video – they will love watching you play the flute.

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