Sunday, October 17, 2010

Preparing for a silent retreat

Tomorrow I leave about noon to go out to the Trappist Abbey in the wine country southwest of Portland. The Abbey is on a lovely 800 acres in rolling hills. I used to go there for a day retreat every few months and then somehow that slipped out of my calendar. Now I'm scheduled for three days of quiet, rest, reflection, and not much else.

Last Wednesday I spent my session with Anna, my spiritual director, talking about guidelines and parameters for these three days. At first I felt a lot of trepidation. Would I go crazy (and I don't mean in a cute way) if I had nothing to do for three days but be with myself? Would the restlessness, the boredom, the lack of connection through email, drive me around the bend? What if I failed at doing nothing (even I could hear that old black and white thinking?). I realized how easy it would be to set myself up to fail, as if this were some kind of contest, not simply an opportunity to rest and reflect. I had to laugh at my extreme thinking.

Anna helped me set an intention: to seek deeper connection. With that in mind I've chosen some books, my journal, and my watercolors. I had, in true addict fashion, picked six books for the three days. And now I'm down to three: Wayne Muller's Having, Being, Doing Enough; Mark Nepo's Facing the Lion, Being the Lion, and John Fox's Finding What You Didn't Lose. I'm also taking a journal and my watercolors and a sketch book.

Anna's advise rang true: "If it helps you connect more deeply, do it. If it takes you out of connection, set it aside and go back to being."

So that's my goal. I'll be back on Thursday and will report in.

1 comment:

sorella said...

Dear Jill,

Many great, thought-provoking nuggets here. I love that you were able to identify your old black and white thinking -- what a valuable realization to have BEFORE you were at the retreat (and being able to laugh at it is gold!).

I love Anna's advice to you, about connection. I know I will find that useful for myself. Thank you for sharing that with us.