Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Tales from the hermitage: Sleeping beauty

Every morning when I walk through the door to the back patio to go out to pray, I have to brush the spider webs off my face.  I wonder if I've slept, not for a night, but for years.  I've been trying not to disturb my guardians - and you can see that their web has attracted quite a bit of detritus.

The week of near total silence in my ad hoc suburban hermitage has passed quickly, and productively.  I've sent two pieces of writing of to their respective editors, and am nearly ready to dispatch a third.  Tonight I will break the silence by driving up to Wernersville to see Patient Spiritual Director.

This is a luxury, this time of silence and solitude, but it's not a fairy tale isolation either — the spider webs notwithstanding.  But like fasting, which sharpens my eyes for hunger around me, this solitude has also helped me see the isolated and lonely who live around me.  The new mother across the street, juggling a little one who'd just thrown up while her toddler tugs at her hand.  The woman hustling to walk the mile to the church on Sunday in the heat of an August noon.  Reminders that this time is oriented outward, it's not a "staycation" or a retreat from the craziness of the world (though I admit to some pleasure in not having to make the transition into the beginning-of-the-semester chaos), it's a teachable moment.

"Sit in your cell," says St. Romuald, "and your cell will teach you everything."

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