A couple of weekends ago, I (Cynthia) enjoyed a four day retreat at St. Gertrude’s Monastery in Cottonwood, Idaho. This was my fourth trip there in the last few years and I was happy to return to this peaceful place that has been so meaningful to me. (You can see a bit about the monastery here: http://www.stgertrudes.org/index.html)
The journey itself is good preparation for the time there. It is an eight hour drive to Cottonwood from Seattle and along the way, one passes from city to suburbs to mountains to desert and finally to prairie. The drive there was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Four of us rode together and had wonderful conversations about sex, politics, religion (while managing to remain friendly : ) and all kinds of other topics.
Once at the monastery, the days were mostly the same. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were eaten with the sisters (mostly all elderly, lovely women). Morning Praise, Afternoon Prayer, and Vespers (one of those was usually Mass) were celebrated every day. The rest of the day was for us to spend on our own. I alternated between reading Scripture, praying, journaling, resting, and hiking.
I took two beautiful hikes during which I had views like this:
One of my favorite moments of the weekend was a couple of hours I spent sitting in this field of wildflowers. The only thing I could hear was bees buzzing, crickets singing, the wind blowing through the trees and the birds – so many different kinds of beautiful birds.
I did spend a lot of time over the weekend thinking about Abigail and Tim back home. Abigail was sick when I left and not herself at all. Of course, Tim did a wonderful job caring for her but it was hard to not be with my sick baby!
All in all, I had a lovely weekend and am thankful that I had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of St. Gertrude’s once again.