I made biscuits for dinner and remembered the cups of Holy Trinity Abbey's signature flavored honey in the back of my cupboard.
The honey was a little hard with age. No problem. Nuke it, stir it, all good.
I was thinking of the honey because I got a call that day from a volunteer at Holy Trinity Abbey near Huntsville. The monks have problems, and nuking and stirring is not the solution.
"Can you put something in the paper telling people to come up here and shop?" she said. "Business has really fallen off since they quit making the honey."
No more honey? I was sorry to hear it. The monks' 1,800 acres is a huge, undeveloped green space, a relaxing haven of field and hill. The monastery and that honey have been in a little corner of Ogden Valley since 1947.
The monks used to run beef cattle and sell eggs, bread, cereal and honey they produced themselves. The eggs, bread and cereal have gone away, but I figured the honey would be around forever.
I always thought the monastery would be around forever, too. It's a branch of the Catholic Church, after all, which is 1,978 years young and going strong. But the honey is a symptom of a larger problem.
The church, worldwide, has a severe shortage of priests and clergy. In Utah, no new monks have joined Holy Trinity Abbey in years.
"We had four die last year," said the monk who answered the phone. "There's only 15 of us left. Do you have a grandson you'd like to send up?"
Actually, at 2 months, Max may be a bit too young. The youngest monk is now in his 60s, the oldest in his 90s. Go to the chapel, peek down the hallways, you'll see a lot of walkers and oxygen tanks.
The abbot, Father David Altman, said few today want to live like a monk. Days of prayer and contemplation don't have much appeal to the Internet generation.
"Because our numbers have gone down, we've had to make a command decision so we can have monks available for more essential duties," he said, which was sad "because our honey has been our signature all these years."
It wasn't just the shrinking workforce. "The inventory of the packaging was running out, and the equipment was becoming problematic, and it all came together at once."
They still sell jellies and jams produced in a monastery back east. The shop has a wide variety of religious books, rosaries and other things. The lady who called noted they sell Bible bags that hold a Book of Mormon nicely, and why not?
One thing the monks have that nobody else does is themselves: Their daily prayers, their daily contemplation, their daily example of peace, all for free.
I ride my bicycle to the monastery in the summer, but the chapel is open year-around. Stop in for a chant at 3:30, 6 or 7:45 a.m., or 12:15, 2:30, 5:30 or 7:30 p.m.
Sit in the dark, listen to the voices, let the rest of the world take care of itself. The practice, if not the individuals, is timeless.
The future? Father Altman said "we don't want to go. Nobody in the valley wants us to go. And then there's God's plan."
While we're waiting for God, the gift shop is open daily except Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour off for lunch.
The jellies are amazing. Grab a St. Christopher medal to keep you safe going home.