"Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future," wrote the Trappist
monk Thomas Merton. "Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you
look for it in the present you will never find it." On a cold, blustery
February afternoon, a group that included 14 Colgate students and a handful of
faculty members arrived on the banks of the Genesee River in the western New
York town of Piffard to look for solitude at a retreat at the Abbey of the
Genesee. Waiting for them were 31 Trappist monks and a weekend of very little
conversation. During the next two days, the group (led by Mark Shiner, interim
Catholic chaplain) attended a dozen liturgies (which started daily at 2:30
a.m.) in between a combined 43 hours of silent reflection.
"I don't know what I hope to achieve . . . I feel what will have to happen,
will happen," responded Matthew Skrzynski '07 when asked what he hoped to
accomplish that weekend. "I may not know what that is for a long time."