LOST CITY – Ten years may seem like a long timeframe for most construction projects.

But the Benedictine monks who have made their home near Lost City are used to spending a lot of time contemplating topics of an eternal nature.

So the fact that their monastery is a long-term work-in-progress isn’t all that bothersome to them. Ten years is a mere drop in the bucket.

“We really want to have this whole thing built by 2009,” said Father Anderson, prior of Our Lady of the Annunciation Clear Creek Monastery. “But we’re patient. Our order’s been around since the fifth century, and some things just take some time.”

In 1998, Lost City rancher Stan Doyle sold part of his ranch to the monastery, and four years later, the monks celebrated the completion of the crypt – or lower level – of their church. With 3-foot-thick concrete walls and arched doorways and windows, the crypt wasn’t by any means inexpensive. So once it was completed, the project was put on hold until the monks received enough donations to continue construction.

Now, with a donation from the Warren Foundation of Tulsa, they’re hoping to begin Phase 2 of the project later this year, with the construction of a residence building that, along with the church and two other planned structures, will eventually enclose a square commons area.

“This is what we’ll be building this year,” said Father Anderson, pointing out a four-story building on a scale replica of the project. “When it’s done, we will move in there.”

Currently the monks live and worship in renovated ranch houses that were built when the property belonged to Doyle.

But even when they move into their new digs at the actual monastery, they won’t exactly be living high on the hog.

“The monk doesn’t live luxuriously,” said Father Anderson. “He has a locker, a bed, and a desk.”

He also has running water – but only cold running water.

Father Anderson said the residence building will have hot water, but only in the guests’ rooms. For Benedictine monks, cold water’s good enough.

That may not sound too appealing to a lot of folks, but the monastery has actually attracted quite a following of devotees who have moved to the Lost City area to be near the complex.

“We have a growing community around the monks,” said Father Anderson. “We have a lot of people moving in, and they help out around the monastery.”

Father Anderson said the Benedictine Order, with its austere lifestyle and Latin chants, obviously isn’t on the cutting edge of things. But it still has an important role in modern culture.

If you compare Christianity to an old oak tree, he said, all the parts of that tree are analogous to the numerous religious movements that have branched out over the centuries. Benedictines may not be the hippest, coolest, trendiest fellows around, but their traditions provide the foundation for those who are.

“The Benedictines – we’re kind of like an old branch of the tree. It doesn’t change much, but there’s a lot of life in it,” said Father Anderson. “You’ve got to have things that are old, solid and stable, and you’ve got to have new, young things bursting with energy. In Christianity, you have both. The Benedictine’s way isn’t the newest thing, but there’s still a lot of life in it.”

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