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Trip Report The Road Less Travelled

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Paper and pen were faithfully brought all the way from Oz, but alas, I have succombed to the digital world. I admit that unless I use the keyboard (even if it is only on my smartphone), this trip has little hope of being recorded.

All the places that I've visited so far have been packed with tourists, so why the title? It is because 'The Road Less Travelled' refers more to the journey within. I am a cloistered Benedictine nun on sick leave for a short time from the monastic enclosure. During my leave, my Dad was diagnosed with a very aggressive and advanced form of cancer. Although sad, it was actually providential that our illnesses coincided, because I was able to support him through his treatment. Normally I would have been in the enclosure.

It had been an 18 year journey on this little trodden path. I have been sent as the founding member of 3 monasteries and have lived in Australia, New Zealand, UK, the Andes in Ecuador and the desert of Peru. The greatest and toughest journey was the one leaving the monastery for the first time in 15 years. Three years ago I saw the internet for the first time and sent my first email. It took me three months to work out how to turn on the TV, so many buttons and no dials. It took ages to figure out the multiplicity of new verbs such ad 'Google it'. People thought I was odd because I look fairly young but was behaving like some of their grandparents.

It will soon be time to return to our beautiful peaceful way of life. So before the time comes I desired to make a few pilgrimages. The first intention was for my Dad and his health. The next for the renewal of my vows. The third was given to me by my superior general (the big boss after the Lord and the Pope).

When I told Mother General about this trip, she said, 'Why not get a group together and make a pilgrimage in honour of Mother Foundress.' Mother Foundress is the wonderful person who founded our Congregation, her name is Marie Adele Garnier.

I said to M.General,' Mother, I can't even get one person to travel with me, how will I get a group!' With typical matter of factness ' Well, just pray'. And do you know, the very next day 3 people said they would go. But, not this year, next year. So my third task is a kind of reconnaissance, to organize the big group tour for next year.

At the moment I'm in a hotel in Cassino, Italy, beneath Monte Cassino, the heartland of Benedictine monasticism. But I'm still jetlagged and I have to catch a train early in the morning, so my account of my first few days in Italy will have to wait until I get to Sorrento. Until then, goodnight and God Bless.

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