I left the retreat center at 9:45 this morning. The first few miles of countryside were lovely and peaceful and with no one behind me, I felt okay driving slowly, taking my time. Then the town appeared and the traffic and the four-lane highway of commercial and industrial businesses and I felt lost and weird and a bit dizzy by it all. Maybe old people don't drive so slowly because they can't feel the speed but because they can and they're in no hurry to get the trip over with. I felt that way this morning, in no hurry to get the trip over with.
I hadn't been to the Trappist Abbey for 6 or 7 years and it was as lovely as I'd remembered. My room was D-1 (there are 5 guest houses each with a room lower and upper with a bath at the midway landing. I had the lower with corner windows out onto the large duck pond and no other buildings in sight although they're connected by a maze of stairways that would have pleased M C Escher. I carried in my bags, went to park my car in the lower lot, and then came back and immediately sat down by the pond. I was in no hurry to pack and get organized. In fact, I was prepared to be in no hurry at all.
I spent all of Monday afternoon and evening doing nothing but sitting by the pond. I'd move position to get a different angle or to find a little more sun or a little more shade. I sat just watching and filling my eyes with the beauty for 2 and 1/2 hours. Then I went to Vespers and listened to the lovely voices of the monks chanting their prayers and psalms. In all the times I had been there, I had never ventured into the chapel (plain on the outside, extraordinarily beautiful on the inside--white and wood and glass with a vaulted ceiling and simple decor). I ate dinner in silence with others.
Then I spent another hour in my room, in the rocker, watching the light fade over the water and watching the moon come on full and begin her dance across the sky.
Compline at 7:30--lullabies as the monks sing themselves to rest. Service in the near dark. Magical.
I read then for an hour but spent as much time gazing off into the distance as reading.
Those of you who know me as a get-it-done kind of person may find this as amazing as I did.
I'm unsure as to what all has shifted inside me, much I think, but for now, this is how I got started. More tomorrow...