Moncks Corner, S.C — For the brothers of Mepkin Abbey, located near Moncks Corner, S.C., one day is about the same as any other.
They rise at 3 a.m. and after a day full of prayer, meditation, and services, it is back to bed at eight p.m. The lifestyle is not for everyone.
"Right now, we would have about 17 [people] here and that can fluctuate; go up and down a little bit," said Brother John.
Mepkin Abbey has served as Brother John’s home for 53 years.
"Some of the reasons would be different for all, but all of the people would feel they are called by the Lord in one way or another," said Brother John.
This is the primary vision that the public has of the monastic lifestyle, and rightfully so. A portion of the Brothers’ day however, is spent growing and packaging the oyster mushrooms that they sell to support themselves.
"All bacteria has to be totally kept away from it, or it's a battle of molds. We create these holes, so it knows where to put out its mushrooms," said Brother John.
The brothers each put in five to six hours a day cultivating the crop.
"We have to certainly provide for the upkeep of the monastery and not depend totally on gifts and offerings," said Brother John.
Oyster mushrooms are not the easiest to grow, but when done right there is a nice payoff. Mepkin Abbey has found a market for its mushrooms through some supermarkets, but also in many of the restaurants in nearby Charleston.
"The chefs are delighted to get them. They were most difficult to get into the Charleston area, until we started growing them,” said Brother John.
This is not the first thing that comes to mind when people think about a monastery. However for the brothers, it is equally as important as everything else.