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Friday, June 02, 2006

Mini Retreat

I’ve taken to giving myself mini retreats every few months, or whenever I feel I’ve misplaced my spiritual compass. My favorite spot is the Quaker study center Pendle Hill, just south of Philadelphia, where I used to live and work. The other day I showed up for a few hours with my lap top, though I didn’t write much, other than brainstorming what my focus should be for the last few weeks of school. Once school ends, I’ll have four weeks of no child care, so it feels important to use this time well. Instead of rushing headlong through more books on race, as I have been doing, I decided to stand still for a few hours and get my bearings.

I didn’t have any glaring moments of clarity. Mostly I came away clear that I don’t need to figure out this next book in the next two weeks (seems obvious, but I have a tendency to pressure myself). Instead I need to focus on finishing other projects I’ve started so that my desk and mind are clear when the children become my constant companions again.

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but this morning we had a much easier time getting ready for school, even though Luke’s baseball game kept us up again last night. Lately our mornings have started with me begging Megan to get out of bed, while I'm simultaneously folding the laundry and checking the e-mail. Usually I’m tense by 7:20 and yelling by 7:45. But this morning both children woke up a few minutes early, so I visited each of them in their beds and had a peaceful chat and a hug before nudging them down the steps to breakfast. It was a reminder that they can be delightful (as well as exasperating) and that my state of mind can make a huge difference in how delightful they seem. I just hope I can keep this perspective during the muggy days when I’ll be unable to sneak off for a mini retreat.


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