…or close to it.
Friday morning, October 20th, my friend and I left the apartment building at 5:15 am. She had graciously agreed to drive me out to Lafayette for my weekend retreat. The goal was to get there before the beginning of the Lauds at 6:30am.
I was to spending the weekend at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey. I had set up the retreat initially to talk to one of the brothers about participating in the Monastic Life Retreat the abbey offers. However, by the time the weekend rolled around, I knew that this would not be the focus of my weekend after all.
At home I left most of the trappings of my day to day life. I brought with me only a change of clothes, some books for reading and reflection and my moleskine notebook in which to write (I even left my watch at home).
The abbey itself is located on approximately 1400 acres of land on the west side of the Dundee hills. This is an area now famous for its numerous world famous vineyards (in fact Sokel Blosser’s vineyards border the east side of the abbey’s land). The abbey’s land is however largely forested with the exception of some farm land at the base of the hill. The monks use this land to grow vegetables they use for food.
Back to my story…
After Laud’s (which is actually the second service of the monastic hours), I had to wait until my room was available. During this time I sat out on the deck of the reception area and read a bit from the collection of poetry by Rumi I had brought with me. Shortly before noon, I was told my room was ready. The room I would be staying in over the weekend was simple. A twin bed, a desk and a rocking chair. Perfect simplicity.
12:30 brought the Sext service. After which came a silent dinner with other retreatants. We would be eating a vegetarian diet for the weekend (as the monks themselves do). After supper I decided to head off to the trails above the abbey’s buildings. Near the top of the hill there is a shrine to the Lady Guadalupe that made a good goal. While there were defined trails, they were still not the heavily used trails I was used to. At times the trail even had a blanket of growth covering it completely.
One of the best things about this short hike, was that I didn’t run into anyone else on the hike. It was just me and the trees.
More to come later…