July 1, 2008

Retreat Notes 5: Observations

Seeing the Trappists at prayer, I recognize many from the nine years I've been coming here. It's like the people you see when you ride the bus or the subway every day. You see the same people you don't know over and over again. Like my own community, I can tell that theirs is shrinking. There are fewer than before. On this visit I see only one novice, not particularly young, and no observers.*

There are differences between these monks and my own religious brothers, though. They seem more evenly divided over the different age groups than we are. The older ones seem to get around a lot more easily than ours, and they're all lighter on the whole. This is probably due to differences in diet and regular physical activity, namely bad are rare for us vs. better and often for them.

*On the last morning of the retreat, I noticed that novice was missing from choir (Trappist novices stick out because of the different color of their cowl and scapular). After Mass, walking back to the retreat house, we saw him getting into a car bound for the airport.

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