I kept a journal during my silent retreat last weekend at Holy Cross Abbey. Here’s what I wrote.

July 23, 2010


Why on earth am I here? After the tour of the retreat guest house I feel like crying. I wonder why I didn’t go visit Melissa in Charlottesville instead. This seems like a really strange place for me to be. I have no idea what I will do with my time for the next 40some hours. I was surprised to learn there are rooms for talking. I’m not sure how I feel about having an out. Although really, who would I talk to? On the check-in sheet most people seem to be priests or nuns. Again, how did I end up here?

I stopped in Purcellville at the Giant to pee and bought Wheat Thins and clementines. Being possibly pregnant, I wanted to be prepared. When I arrived, I felt like I was smuggling in contraband.

There’s a tv and dvd player here, in one of the rooms down the hall where you’re allowed to talk. Why? Who goes on a silent retreat and watches dvds? I’m hoping for a storm to watch instead.

The first liturgical service of the day is at 3:30am. Flashlights are provided if you want to walk the quarter mile to the chapel. I can’t imagine getting up that early. But at least it would be cooler out. It’s expected to be 101 tomorrow, at least at home.

There are no keys for the doors here. You can lock from the inside but have to trust no one will go into your room while you’re out.

People probably do not have sex here.

I asked about spiritual direction from a monk, as advertised on the website, and learned that the monk who had done that here died last month. He was 91. People had been coming back for 30 years to talk with him. Bad timing on my part. No spiritual direction for me this weekend.

There is a gift shop here. The monks make fruit cake. They probably don’t sell t-shirts. [Here I sketched a picture of a person wearing a shirt that says I SURVIVED A SILENT RETREAT AT HOLY CROSS ABBEY.]

Maybe the reason I’m here is to sleep.