17 October 2013
review by Patricia Gonzalez, photos courtesy of Patricia Gonzalez
“The most beautiful sound in the world is silence. When it is quiet you can listen to yourself and others. Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom. Silence starts with attention and what you give attention grows. Silence is the white between the written lines. Things become more intense in silence. Taste the silence.”
So said the advertising copy for La Trappe beer. As a marketing campaign, it had me impressed. It was poetic, well written and had me excited about the product. And I’m not even an avid beer drinker.
TIC’s Trappist Tour outing certainly started off with silence. Maybe because the adventurous few in the group who had biked to the monastery had done so at breakneck speeds in order to reach the tour and were busy catching their breath? Maybe because some TIC members hadn’t met one another yet? Or maybe on some level we recognized that Abdij
Koningshoeven, while less than 15 minutes away from the city center, was hallowed ground – a space separate from the hustle and bustle of daily life that demanded a few moments of quiet reverence.
The stillness and silence quickly dissipated as we followed the booming voice of our jovial tour guide through the abbey grounds. His funny quips had us laughing and smiling (even groaning at times) as we walked through the old brewery where beer was once prepared for first fermentation and the more modern factory where it’s now bottled and undergoes that all-important second fermentation. The tour over and our complimentary glass of beer drunk, we sat down in the gardens of the Tasting Room to get to know one another over shared french fries, assorted borrelhapjes, and (of course) more beer. We discovered that our group of 15 adults and 3 kids spanned 3 continents (Europe, Asia and America were represented!).
We welcomed an expat from Eindhoven who had made the journey to see what attractions Tilburg had to offer and, while picking out bread and chocolates at the Abbey gift shop, talked to guests about whether TIC would be a good fit for them. By the end of the afternoon the silence was gone. Instead, we were left with only the noisy chatter of new friends.