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Monday, October 20, 2008

Retreat

Last week I enjoyed three days of quiet, a rare luxury for a parent. Even more unusual, I had no access to email or the Internet, so whatever David Brooks and Maureen Dowd had to say about the candidates, I missed it. I also missed the ups and downs of the stock market. I didn’t even see the last presidential debate (though I confess I turned on the radio for a few minutes). More difficult, I missed my children, both of whom had colds, which for one can sometimes turn to asthma, so my departure was laden with some guilt. But I have a great husband who believes in spiritual retreats and who had the week off between jobs, so he went away Sunday through Wednesday, when we met at Panera for lunch, switched cars, and sent me north to the guest house where he had been for my own retreat.

I spent two nights in a geodesic dome that was built by some good friends decades ago and which now serves as the guest house on their hundred acre property. The leaves were at their peak, with yellows and pinks jumping out everywhere, but it wasn’t too cold yet to walk without a winter coat and gloves. It was bow and arrow season for deer, and despite being warned, I came upon one hunter sitting in the woods. He reported that there was a bear about, which I was glad to learn after all my solitary hiking. I’ve seen coyote on this property before and didn’t feel very brave about it, but this time I only saw birds and something I couldn’t identify swimming in a pond (about the size of a beaver). More important than any particular species was the feeling of reconnecting with nature which is always good for my spirit. The beauty and quiet, not to mention sleeping in every morning, were rejuvenating.

In addition to massive journal writing (did you hear, it helps you lose weight?) I also read The Call to the Soul by Marjory Zoet Bankson on a friend’s recommendation. It’s a wonderful book about the stages of experiencing a call. Although Bankson labels the categories differently than I do, much of what she says rings true, especially the idea of going through a Risk stage when beginning to act on a call. It was good to be able to just sit down and read a spiritual book, contemplate how it applies to me, journal about it, and never once have to get up to fold the laundry or do anything for anyone else. Still, two days of retreat was really enough, and I would have come home Friday night, if I hadn’t been leading a workshop on discernment Saturday morning at a spot half way between my retreat spot and home. So I spent Friday night in Bethlehem at a beautiful Franciscan retreat center that I found on the Internet. There I saw fox and more beautiful trees and stayed in the hermitage so that I was good and ready to be with people again in time for my workshop and the school fair where I was reunited with my children, who now seem to take my being away in stride.

Both the going away and the coming back are cause for much gratitude.

2 Comments:

Blogger naturalmom said...

Mmmm. Love that last line.

Feeling just a tad jealous over here as I type with a nursing baby! It'll be a while before I get several days away. I'm glad you had a nice time. :o)

Stephanie

4:16 PM  
Blogger Eileen Flanagan said...

Sorry for inspiring envy. It did take years before I could do this sort of thing.

11:19 AM  

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