“[C]ontrary to what I might have hoped or expected when I was younger, life does not in fact grow simpler as one gets older, its complexities and contradictions do not actually decrease as time goes on.”
–Esther de Waal, Living with Contradictions: Reflections on the Rule of St. Benedict

How I do not know, but I have arrived at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho.

It is close to ideal.

I’m on the fifth floor, facing east, overlooking the Camas prairie, a big sky, and many tall trees, in particular two super-tall spruce I think, the upper branches of which reach far above the fifth floor and are hung with clusters of cones. It occasionally rains and thunders with flashes of lightning as it did the first morning. Birdsong of various kinds is constant. The sisters have an orchard with (that I know of) apples, apricots and cherries, as well as a giant raspberry patch. They thus have delicious home-made preserves, and fresh unsprayed cherries and raspberries at every meal. The food is plentiful and lovingly made and there is certainly enough there so I’m not going to starve, esp since I brought three to four bags and smart move of my own snacks, crackers, dried fruit and drinks.

The main thing is it is quiet. I have not had actual unabated quiet probably since I was at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony which was a year ago. Anyway, there are sisters who actually live on my floor and wing and I haven’t even seen them, though we share bathrooms. The bedroom is small and adequate with a window directly in front of a beautiful tree. I will sleep and take naps there. But the place I’ll spend most all my time is the Guardian Angels room, the studio I nabbed within the first few hours, which has two big windows, wifi, a desk, shelves of actually decent books (I also brought tons with me, and again good move), high ceilings, fir woodwork and which I have already managed to trick out with cards and artwork I brought myself, a few semi-decent icon images they had here, and wildflowers stuck in Goya coconut water cans.

I cannot describe the sheer sense of heaven to be ensconced up here and know I will not be BOTHERED. Right outside my Guardian Angels Room door is a life-size statue of Mary that scares the crap out of me every time I see/sense it as my limbic system persists in perceiving an actual person. She is squishing the head of a screaming serpent, so that’s good, and I hope to get used to her. Right across from her is a bathroom, and beside that a small kitchen area with a full-size refrigerator, a sink, a small coffee maker, and a plug for my electric water heater—in other words, my coffee and tea needs (one of the day’s MAIN considerations) are TOTALLY PROVIDED FOR.

With all that, I have many psycho-spiritual conflicts/battles raging, per usual. I’m sure none of them amount to anything.


  1. Will pray you have a wonderful, peaceful, and quiet visit.

  2. Mentioned the same image of Mary in my homily for the Assumption. Saw it first as a Catholic school kid: will never forget the snake’s fangs and am forever grateful for Mary’s loving heart and strong foot. Enjoy the silence, dear H!

    1. Ha I know, Fr. Pat, I love that Mary looks all demure, head down, but actually is SQUASHING the head of that vile serpent! Will post some pix soon–DRINKING in the silence. Boy do I need it. Greetings to Monterey!


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