I sat in the grass, under the shade of a tree and breathed in and out. I tried to drop my stubborn shoulders, they have hovered near my earlobes for quite a while.
And I contemplated how I had ended up in this grass. On a beautiful day. With about 20 people I did not really know.
My spiritual director administrated a retreat for those who needed a day of solitude, prayer and direction. And I paid a small fee, hopped in a minivan with two friends from church and traveled one town over for the day. And I have a really hard time taking time to myself these days. But, divinely, I took the plunge and made time for the retreat.
In the morning, we had prayer time, a guided reading and then we were set loose on the retreat grounds to find a quiet spot for a few hours.
I was a bit apprehensive, I had no idea if I could sit in silence for 2 plus hours at a time, but here I was.
After a bit of silence, I felt myself drift away to this quiet, spellbound place-- as if the solitude itself was feeding my soul. Gently handing bits of bread and sips of wine. It reminded me of the line in a Eucharistic prayer, "Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal."
The quiet was as satisfying as a cool drink after a hot day. A part of me that was bound up-- tied in knots slowly faded away as my pen struck the paper of my journal. And it was not all comfortable, but it was stretching and growing.
After a few sessions of solitude that day, I felt refreshed, whole and hungry for more time, more bits of bread, wine.
I am wondering how to get this type of solitude in my life without a formal retreat, without an entry fee and without driving to a venue a town or tow over for a lake view. How can I take this time in daily life?
So I started bit by bit. When I walk at night, I turn off my ipod and run towards the sunset.
I find a quiet spot with my journal on the front steps of my home. Even if it is just for a few minutes.
"Glaciers move in tides. So do mountains. So do all things." John Muir
Do you take time for solitude? Do you set aside time to be alone? What feeds your soul?
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.