Thursday, June 06, 2013

Grain once scattered on the hillside

... was in this broken bread made one.

On the last day of my retreat, my director handed me the notes he'd jotted during our conversations, and suggested as a last contemplation a gathering up of the graces that had been scattered throughout the retreat and pack them up to take home, using the notes if they were helpful.  I sat outside in the cool of the morning garden and gathered up some of the grain scattered:  silence, heat, fog-shrouded, crisp, grace-soaked, anxious, Rilke, renewing, darkness, stillness...silence.  

In much the same spirit, here are some of the bits I jotted down on post-it notes and bits of scrap paper along the way, scattered across my desk like seeds for future writing.
  • This retreat tasted of salt.
  • It was, as predicted, hot, and kept getting hotter and more humid.  The promised thunderstorms (and consequent release from the heat) never materialized, though by the last day the heat did dissipate.
  • Laundry will drive the breaking of the silence more readily than even the arrival of an ambulance (which I hasten to say did not happen on this retreat, but has on two hot and humid retreats in days past).
  • I learned two new ways to fold a furoshiki.
  • Even if there is an air conditioner in your room and the weather is hot (and did I mention humid?), you don't have to turn it on.
  • One late night's phone calls (all sanctioned by my director as we tried to balance my retreat with a small crisis at home), sent me flying down the four floors and out of the retreat house not once, not twice, but three times.  The fourth time a text came winging in, I wearily grabbed the phone, thinking I just could not do the stairs yet again (and thankfully did not need to).  In the morning as I whinged to my director about this he gently pointed out, "We do have an elevator."  Sometimes you need to discern things in the moment, and not take as written in stone the election of the morning.
  • Special K Pastry Crisps are just PopTarts for adult palates (just as sweet, with a higher filling to pastry ratio and smaller servings).  Like muggy nights without air conditioning, this dragged me right back to my childhood.
  • The refulgence of the fireflies.  A silent monastic choir, complete with antiphonarian, replete with melismata.

Photo is of the tabernacle in the main chapel of the old Jesuit Novitiate at Wernersville, taken from the oratory just off the main altar.


  1. Glad to have you back and I hope the crisis has been resolved and that your retreat was balm to your soul.

    1. Crisis is resolving nicely, with a bit of finger crossing, and the retreat was balm, even if I got more practice in praying with anxiety than I might have wished for.

  2. about that for relaxing! Hope all the craziness is passed and you were able to glean what you needed from it. I have to say I am so envious that you have a spiritual director...I need to get on that. And totally agree about the special k bars.

    1. Spiritual directors are definitely a grace, I will pray that you and the Spirit find a good one.

      It was balm indeed.