The berg of Moncks Corner  is actually named for a person, not a vocation. But nonetheless that’s where you’ll find a fully active, practicing Trappist monastery, Mepkin Abbey (1098 Mepkin Abbey Rd., Moncks Corner, 843/761-8509, www.mepkinabbey.org , Tues.–Fri. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Sun. 1–4 p.m., free), notable for the fact that it’s not only open to visitors, but welcomes them.
The beautiful Abbey and grounds on the Cooper River is on what was once the plantation of great Carolina statesman Henry Laurens (whose ashes are buried here), and later the home of famous publisher Henry Luce and his wife Clare Boothe Luce.
The focal point of natural beauty is the Luce-commissioned Mepkin Abbey Botanical Garden (closed Mon.), a 3,200-acre tract with a camellia garden designed by noted landscape architect Loutrel Briggs, a native New Yorker who made Charleston  his adopted home.
When they’re not in prayer, the monks generally observe silence. In accordance with the emphasis the order puts on the spiritual value of manual labor, farming is the main physical occupation, with the monks’ efforts producing eggs, honey, preserves, soap, and even compost from the gardens, all of which you can purchase in the Abbey gift shop in the reception center, which will always be your first stop. Tours of the Abbey itself are usually given at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. most days.
The majority of visitors to the Abbey are day visitors here to enjoy the quiet, the breeze, and the humming of the honeybees. But for those wanting a contemplative, quiet retreat of a distinctly Christian nature, the Abbey lets you stay up to six nights in one of their guesthouses (married couples can also take advantage of this).
As you’d imagine, the accommodations are Spartan—a bed, desk, and reading chair, with a private bathroom. Linens, towels, and soap are provided, but other than access to the library there’s no other modern stimulation.
Retreatants eat together with the monks at the same time, enjoying the same strict vegetarian diet and the same strict mealtime silence (though at lunch a single monk reads aloud from a book). Monks will assist retreat guests in the protocols of the Abbey’s prayer schedule.