Thoughts from a young theologian

Camping


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Despite our many quirky personalities and strange behaviours, I really believe that many of us here at the seminary are as normal as normal guys can be. We’re not a bunch of weird, strange people that I used to think seminarians were, because you’ve got to be absolutely crazy to be willing to give up everything, including marriage (vow of celibacy) and will (vow of obedience) to follow God. Well, the seminary is not just a training ground for future priests, but really, a training ground for future men. Only about 25%, statistically, of guys who enter into the seminary actually make it all the way through to the end. At least, that’s what the guys here have told me. Most leave, either after their first year or after philosophy… Some have even left after a week, from what I’ve heard! I think part of our quirkiness comes from the fact that being constantly surrounded by just guys, we’re most free to be men. We don’t have to worry that much about behaving that properly, even though we’re expected to have a gentlemanly conduct, because we don’t have anyone we need to try and impress. There aren’t any girls around! c”,)

Well, what’s more manly than going out into the middle of nowhere and staying there? This weekend, half of us went out camping. Annually, a bunch of the seminarians, led by soon to be Fr. Brian, head out on some random adventure in the middle of the woods, followed by an intense hike the next day in the mountains. This year, we went to a mountain about 30 minutes west of the abbey. We left right after Vespers and got there about an hour before sunset. To get to our site, we had to drive through some old logging roads with about a billion potholes. The deacon was fine since he had a ginormous truck whereas everyone else’s suspensions took quite a beating to get there.

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Since we were 15 guys, it was easy for us to set up camp in this location. We pitched our tents, built our fire, set up some massive logs that we found all over the place around the fire.

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Actually, the setting up of those logs were a story in themselves. Scattered relatively close to the site where we set up camp were some huge tree trunks that were left behind from all the logging that had gone on in the past. 10-12 of us were needed to carry these logs all the way from where we found them to our fire pit so we’d have a chair to sit on. That took a lot of grunts and man-power and we were all dirty and a bit muddy afterwards.

For dinner, because we were able to drive right up to our site, allowing us to bring as much gear as we wanted, we had steak, noodle bowls, and cheese wieners. Such manly food!!! Hahahahhaah I think most of our food this weekend was soooooo manly!!! Now I know that it is Lent, but at the same time, Friday was also the solemnity of the Annunciation. Solemnities and Feasts at the abbey mean one thing–mini party time! The steaks were really really good… and so were the wieners. We roasted some of the wieners over the fire and they tasted even better. The first batch of noodle bowls (either spicy chicken or kimchi flavoured) were a little bit sketchy because the water from the stream that we added to our noodle bowls was not boiled enough… Boiling water is really important in camp… Even though that stream or that lake looks like it has the cleanest water in the world, I learned from my parasitology classes that it can still contain Giardia, which can cause beaver fever. I don’t want to go into the details of what the symptoms of beaver fever are but suffice it to say, they’re not pretty. You can look it up if you REALLY like but I’ll have to attach the disclaimer to advise you not to look it up unless you really really want to. In any case, some guys exhibited some of those symptoms, though I’m not sure if it was because of beaver fever or if it was because of the interesting combination of foods we were feasting on.

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I didn’t realize how much I enjoy looking at and watching fire… It’s such a peaceful thing to look at and it’s so nice crowding around it on a cold night. We had a lot of fun around our campfire too.. We roasted smores and a whole bunch of other stuff around it….

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Yes… that’s an orange peel (a particular specialty of our seminary that only people who have stayed at Westminster Abbey for a prolonged period of time will really appreciate). We ended our day around the campfire with lots of chatting and the office of readings. The only surprise that came during the night was the rotting, partially eaten sandwich that one of us found in his sleeping bag (that he had borrowed from the minors). You gotta be really careful when borrowing gear from the minors.. c”,)

The next day, we got up at 6:30, had a breakfast of wieners and cereal (another fantastic combination) for a day-long hike. We first drove a little bit up the mountain (some of us had more trouble than others) to get a head start on trying to reach the summit before the end of the day.

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Most of the trail that we walked on was filled with snow. I’ve never hiked in snow before!! I didn’t realize how incredibly difficult it actually is. We had to take each step carefully, trying to make sure that we wouldn’t slip. We kind of lined up single file behind the guys who had hiking boots and stepped in their footsteps. It ended up being a gorgeous day for a hike, though we didn’t quite make it all the way to the top.

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After having lunch in front of a beautiful view of the mountains, and leaving behind a nice little souvenir of our presence, we tried to make our way down quickly to try and get back to the abbey in time for mass.

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Unfortunately, on our way down, because we went so fast and because by this point, we were already exhausted, some of us got injured. One in our group tweak his knee so we ended up lining in front of him, trying to flatten the snow so he didn’t have to bend his knee as much. It took us so much longer to get down because we had to go slowly for him but it was really something to see all of us working together to help out one of our own… Hehehehehe It was a fantastic trip, though now, all of us are really really sore… c”,) Anyways, that’s all for today! Have a happy Sunday!!

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