Sunday, June 27, 2010

the retreat - day 1 - Jan. 8, 2008

Journal:  5:00 a.m. - I just woke myself up snoring for the 2nd time in my life - so much for my "silent" retreat. 

Before I turned on the light I saw the outline of a tree against the south window - very nice - but God's invitation to me to recognize and give thanks for that, see it as one of his many gifts, and to move into further communion with him?  That seems too sweet, too...what's the theological term?  Too much everything happens for me, for us, and is God telling us he loves us....The wind is blowing, that's God telling me he loves me?  Or is it a reminder of God's love and care for us and the earth, a love that constantly exists, a reminder that he is always there to commune with?

The shadow of the tree looks like a hand, rather skeletal, but after my earlier musings my first thought was that it is God's hand, Christ's actually, because there is a rectangular hole where the palm/wound would be.  A hole like the one in the Trinity icon, an invitation to enter.  It is his protection of me here, it is his hand raised in blessing over me, it is Christ showing me that the work of redemption has been done, it is held up and placed on my window, on my head or shoulder, calling me gently to be still, rest and feel safe in the comfort of his love, the shadow of his hand, nail-pierced.  It could seem like a trap, a large, skeletal hand holding me in, but I know God's not like that.  (I choose to see it as) a blessing, an invitation to know him better, and a gift of himself and his peace.  I know the life with Christ is full of danger, heartbreak, dark nights, etc; this is not a promise to avoid that, but a command, 'though gentle, to realize to a deeper extent how safe, loved, and at peace I truly am, always, when I am resting close to him - close enough to be in his shadow.

Take, allow time to realize to my depths this truth - can take these 30 days +.

6:20 a.m. - went downstairs for cup of chai tea and found breakfast out...and my place at the table set and ready, waiting for me whenever I wanted to come.  I felt special, treasured, wanted, welcomed.

When I came back upstairs I went into the wrong room - 2nd floor instead of 3rd - was lost in thought and not paying attention until I set my cup down on the desk, looked around, and thought, where's my stuff?  Oh...  (My spiritual director says that when you begin to live more contemplatively, from that part of your brain, so to speak, you can become less "capable" (my word) of living in the more reasonable, logical way.  Let's hope that's what this is.)

7:00 a.m. - church bell ringing next door - a call to mass....From The Oxford Book of Prayer, ed. by George Appleton:  "We praise thee, O God...Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth...of an infinite Majesty...also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter...."

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord...

8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. - went for a walk - cold but ok when bundled and walking...saw hand-drawn map in MH about park/nature path several blocks away - headed to check it out and generally explore, get some exercise - about half-way as far as I needed to go west, and 1-2 blocks south (no trouble with directions today!) I saw a lovely, regal brick building at the end of the road several blocks south....I was drawn to it and walked toward it and continued general thoughts, including wishing I had a different song in my head than the Stones' "under my thumb" (?) - that's the only part of the song I know or can remember, so it was looping over and over in my 11th Street, 2 blocks north of the brick building, I needed to head west to go to the park, but instead I thought, no, I want to see what this building to the end of the sidewalk before I could read the words at the top of the gate/entry to the building's grounds - "Nazareth Convent" - I stood there looking up at the words with my mouth open, due to dumbfoundedness, the cold air, and a stuffy nose - God walked me straight to the convent, there was no other way to see it.

I tentatively entered the gate and took the sidewalks to either end of the building and peeked around the sides, then went to a gazebo centered in front of the bldg., dusted some snow off a bench, sat and spent about 20 minutes there.  Amazed and also not surprised...looked around, praying some.  A woman raised the blinds on a 2nd- or 3rd-floor window, one of a handful of windows I could see from the gazebo.  She looked out, down, and around, taking everything in, seemed appreciative, possibly lifted the blinds with anticipation.  The she looked up at the sky and I saw that her lips were moving.  "Pray for me, sister," I thought, and then I cried.  For my loneliness and pain over the years, not self-pity, but the sorrow itself.  Cried because I knew I had come to a place, inner and outer, with God, where I could cry.  Not for long, but enough.  Then I became aware of bird calls I was unfamiliar with coming from the large blue spruces on either side of the gazebo.  I put my glasses back on and watched and listened to the birds flitting in the trees.  Shelter, sanctuary.  Sensed that God had brought me out of the tears for now.  Was happy, thankful - not way up, just better.  Sorrow wasn't as deep as it could get....I knew/"suspected" that the sorrow would always be there, and one reason for it, for everyone's, is because of our separation, to some extent, for now, from God.  I knew I'd return to it and leave it many more times.  I wrote "Thank you" in the 1/2" snow on the sidewalk outside the gazebo when I left.

On the walk back I noticed cars parked in town with lights left on, then I realized the engines were running, at least one was unlocked - these places do still exist, thankfully.

12:00 - lunchtime - I am the only one having meals in silence!...Instrumental music was playing softly, and I turned the lights down some and had the room to myself - enjoyed the room and the food (ham & bean soup!) and found myself swinging my feet as I ate - another reminder of childhood - it isn't all lost, as I'd thought.

After lunch I spent 40 min. in the retreat house's library and made it through one 3-foot-long shelf.  Only 44 to go - how much time do I have again?  SJ said don't read for study, just do what leads to prayer, so my exploration was simply that - discovery, joy, and appreciation.

I feel at home with the way of life here, at least with my initial experience of it.  It feels very natural to me, and some part of me belongs to this.  Similar to when I discovered SMD (the field of teaching students with severe/multiple disabilities).  I feel as if I've found what I'd been looking for.

4:30 p.m. - walked 2 1/2 to 3 miles this afternoon

6:40 p.m. - at the beginning of my time with SJ, the "practicalities" time, I asked if I could go to the store and get the coffee I like to drink every day, or is that not allowed/would that hinder my "attitude" of prayer that I am to maintain throughout the retreat.  She said it was fine to go and get whatever makes me feel at home, just try to maintain the silence and the aware, prayerful attitude.  I enjoyed my supper at 5:30 and was out of the house by 5:55.  Went to local grocery and got caff.-free Coke, coffee, and chocolate-covered nuts and raisins.  Came back and opened some Coke, grabbed a mystery novel from the bookshelf full of them right outside my door (are you kidding me?  Heaven!), grabbed the choc. peanuts, and settled into the recliner in my room.  Was a bit unsure, though - was this an okay comfort?  A healthy recreational break?  Or a lack of discipline and endurance?  I asked God those questions, then quickly slammed that door shut.  If I should pray or journal instead, could you holler really loudly?  Not 5 min. later, I was surprised to find that the recreational mood had passed.  I put down the book, picked up my journal, and have been living righteously ever since.  :)  The break time was a good idea - it just didn't last as long as I assumed it would.

It takes me forever to get stuff down - mind is both processing and jumping off track....The Motherhouse, the motherlode, mother ship, mutha'....

No comments:

Post a Comment