Mr. Cole describes his retreat to Corpus Christi and the unexpected effect the life and example of the monks had on him. What was especially striking was that the Abbey was not in its strength when he visited, but was in fact in its last decline before having to close in 2002 because of aging membership and a lack of new vocations. Mr. Cole describes matter-of-factly the fading buildings, the facilities needing repair, and other signs that the community had been unable recently to give attention to the general upkeep.
This might have been a depressing scene for him. He had come to the retreat hoping for some peace in a comfortable environment. He was startled to find that he was beginning to have a deep conversion experience that would propel him, against his expectation, into a search for God leading him to become a Catholic during the Easter Vigil a few years later. Somehow the environment hadn’t made any difference. He was touched deeply by the monks themselves, calm, joyful, and faithful in what struck him as a hopeless situation. Their simple faithfulness to their monastic vocation of prayer and work drew him into an experience of God and to what he describes in the book as the fulfillment of his dreams.