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As we prepare for a five night stay at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey, I am preparing for one of the great crises of our monastic retreats.
In the various liturgies at Our Lady of Guadalupe it is hard to miss the frequent references to “virginity”.
There is a paradox at the heart of monasticism.
It is not that the monks of Our Lady of Gaudalupe never speak. They talk when necessary and, at times, even chat, or occasionally tell a joke.
A monk’s life is full of repetition.
I suppose it would be possible to take my fine-toothed theological comb and go through each moment of the monastic liturgies at Our Lady of Guadalupe and find some obscure point about which to quarrel. But, theological arm wrestling seems a trivial waste of time in this place.
Upon arrival at Our Lady of Guadalupe every retreatant receives a pumpkin-coloured sheet of paper densely printed on both sides with two invitations.
This morning we pack our bags, clean our room, make up our beds with fresh linen, and, following Lauds, Mass and breakfast, get into our car and head down Abbey Road towards Port Angeles, the ferry and home.
I wake up as if by some secret inner alarm at 3:00 a.m.
The rain has been unrelenting since we left Victoria. I do not mean showers, or sprinkles, but a veritable deluge soaking the already sodden earth and swelling the creeks and rivers we passed on our way here until they are overflowing their banks.