Roads Traveled by With Linda L. Osmundson
The definition of a retreat is taking time away from ordinary life, withdrawing from everyday concerns, places, and emotions. Writer friends seek a place with no interruptions like phones, family, TV, or even the Internet. They strive for a place to keep their thought processes moving and words flowing.
Where can one go on to get away? Perhaps you settle in an inner sanctum within your home; an
office, basement, bedroom, or any quiet space out of the family’s traffic pattern. Some writers retreat to a motel or a cabin in the mountains.
One place to find all the peace and quiet you could ever imagine is the Abbey of St. Walburga. I’d never been there until recently. My craft group learned the Abbey nuns’ wish list included items we could provide. Our quilters created several quilts to fill a need. A member gathered extra produce from her farm to satisfy another. A few of us went along to deliver the goods and experience the Abbey’s hospitality.
We gathered in one van and drove the hour from Fort Collins to the Abbey located five miles from the Wyoming border on Highway 287. As afternoon clouds gathered overhead, we crossed the cattle guard and headed to the retreat house over an unpaved road. We couldn’t see the buildings hidden behind low foothills. We passed grazing Llamas and green rolling hills.
Sister Hildegard, minister of hospitality and retreat house manager, welcomed us. She served refreshments in a meeting room where we sat around a big square table. Two hand-painted cabinets brought from Germany covered parts of two walls and an upright piano rested against another. Sister, a twenty-six year Abbey resident, related how the Boulder monastery got squeezed by development. A donor offered the current Virginia Dale property in 1997. Over time, construction improved the main building and in 2010 added a commercial kitchen. The monastic community consists of twenty sisters, two postulants, and some oblates (who don’t live on the property but participate within the community). They follow the Benedictine rule of glory to God. A visitor seldom encounters most of the nuns.
Sister’s retreat house provides income for the community through retreats for all denominations; one need not be Catholic. Visitors stay in one of seventeen rooms with no Internet, TV, or telephones. A simple twin bed hugs one wall and a desk sits before a window. Spotless bathrooms are located midway down the long hallways. Windows surround the library and comfortable chairs encourage reading or study. Sister only serves breakfast in the retreat house dining room. For other meals, visitors walk or drive to the main building’s kitchen for the lunchtime formal primary meal.
The community welcomes visitors to attend services throughout the day even though attendance is not mandatory. Walking paths wander through the grounds, but beware of rattlesnakes and other wildlife. Brochures provide advice for wildlife encounters. A line of rugged crosses marks the path for the Way of the Cross and benches scattered about provide places for quiet reading or meditation. A few areas are off limits to visitors.
The Abbey offers concerts and retreats run by the sisters or other professionals. Sister Hildegard teaches a seminar titled “Heroes of Faith” on Saturday, September 21. Besides Noah, Abraham, and Moses, she will look at Deborah, Barak, Susanna, and other unnamed heroes who worked wonders through their faith. Nature Hikes include “Encountering God in Nature.” Groups can schedule their own retreats for their members.
Personal retreats, which can stretch from one day, to several days, are available. Rates range from $20 for one day, which includes lunch only, or $65 a day with meals for several days.
The Abbey also offers a half-price special (Wednesday afternoons through Saturdays) from December 4 through 21, and again January 15 through February 1, which costs $32.50 per night, with meals. Reservations are always required. Longer retreats can be arranged by contacting the Abbey.
To find more information, please visit their website at http://www.walburga.org/. Want to get away from it all? Consider a retreat at the Abbey of St. Walburga.