Crystal's Reviews > Virgin Time: In Search of the Contemplative Life

Virgin Time by Patricia Hampl
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's review
Sep 20, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: memoir, memoirs-for-research
Recommended for: those looking for some validating spiritual insight
Read from March 10 to 27, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

While this book cannot compare to the memoirs of Kathleen Norris or Terry Tempest Williams, it does hold more spiritual insight than some – that is if you are seeking spiritual insight that is in the tradition of the Christ. Hampl is purely Catholic but her readers who are not can still glean from the spirituality in this writing. Reviews have said that her writing is vivid and unique – I found this only in certain sections and at certain moments. Otherwise she is average but good.
This book is travel writing for the most part, but her spiritual insights from time to time give it a deeper flair. About a third of the way into the book, I feared that my time might be wasted but I preserved. She visits Assisi and writes much of St. Francis. I learned much about him here and she has inspired me to read more about him. She then journeys to her next stop, Lourdes, has some unusual insight was she visits and then does an unceremonious jump to a week-long retreat she takes to the west coast and while she does not tell the reader how these two really fit together, we see that they disjointed fit in her spiritual quest for a mystical experience or at least the validation of one she had a as a child. Hampl doesn’t make judgment, which is to her credit. Yet, she also doesn’t purely define what she is seeking. I liked this and I didn’t. Most spirituality is that way. We know we are seeking, we think we may know what we are seeking and often we find something much different when we come to the culmination of our quests … and we are ok with that. This is much how I felt by the end of the book. This was just another experience on the journey.
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