The Abbey of New Clairvaux is a Trappist or "Cistercian" monastery. Trappists, as you may know, are one of the monastic paths that focus on labor and efficiency. If you're like me, you have a smattering of knowledge on the subject from that time in your 20s when you read Thomas Merton and thought you might like to become a monk (but not seriously.) One of the most influential early Cistercians was Bernard of Clairvaux (for fellow church history buffs, you will remember his famous debate with Abelard.)
New Clairvaux was, in fact, established in the 1950s when the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky grew too large. They sent a group out to California to start a spin-off. Yes, not spoken in any of the history material I found at New Clairvaux, but easy to piece together, the Abbey of Gethsemani was the very monastery where Thomas Merton abode. And, yes, he was there and world-famous in the 1950s. So, this monastery could well exist because of that very impulse I cited earlier, but rather for those who did take that thought seriously when they read Thomas Merton in their 20s.
Which brings us to the rebuilding of the Santa María de Óvila Chapter House.
Standing in the building, in the midst of construction, I felt both the weight and insignificance of eternity, as if I were enveloped in something at once much older than I and, in spite of appearances, fragile.
Their website shows what they are planning for the completion of the project.
After the vineyard, we had a picnic at the Woodson Bridge park and played Kubb in the grass by the banks of the Sacramento River. It was one of the more splendid Saturdays we've had in recent memory.