At the retreat, I fell into a rhythm. I’d sleep until it was light, get dressed, go over and make a cup of tea and come back and write in my daily journal until I was done. I usually limit my writing time in the morning as I have a date to go the gym with my buddy or need to get to work. To have two hours to reflect and write each day was a gift. Midway in my writing, I’d go over and get some breakfast, then write some more.
By then, the sun was full up warming the dew on the grass and I’d take my creative journal and a book and pen and head out for the morning. I’m not sure why I carried the journal and book. I didn’t open them. I sat and did nothing. I thought about things but I let the thoughts come and go. I didn’t try to solve any problems or sort anything out or make a mental list. I guess I had the journal there in case I had some brilliant insight but I wrote nothing down.
I watched the light dance in the trees as the sun moved across the sky to the south. I watched the shadows change on the water. I watched the dew dry. From time to time, I heard a leaf hit the path or the pine needles. A few late bees came by to see what I was up to. Occasionally another retreatant would walk along the path or take a seat nearby. Sometimes we would acknowledge each other and sometimes not. I sank deeper and deeper into the calm.
After the 12:30 service and lunch, I sat again outside for an hour or so, then went into my room and took up a seat in the rocker and meditated. Then out I went again, reading a page or two, thinking and not thinking. In the crisp cool of the shade and the Indian summer warmth of the sun, I moved around the pond, trying out all the seats, a bit like Goldilocks, except that each one was just right. A swarm of ladybugs awoke and filled the air, their tiny red and orange bodies on the screens of my room and occasionally on me.
After vespers and dinner, I sat in the rocker and watched the light change. Tuesday night, I had one rough patch. A deep sense of homesickness came over me as the moon came up. I felt alone, lonely. I missed Frannie and Nellie and Reinie, the three felines who share my life. I missed the deep connections I have with friends and family. And then that passed and I watched the night come on and sank deeper into the quiet.