Loyola House occupies 600 acres of farmland and orchard in southern Ontario, and for eight days about forty of us kept almost complete silence there (yes! ~ eating in silence, walking in silence, swimming in silence), moving about as we wished except for the 45 minutes spent with a spiritual director each morning.
I settled into a routine almost immediately: walking the labyrinth for about an hour before or after breakfast; meeting with my director and going to the liturgy in the late morning; a very l-o-n-g walk most afternoons along the river that meanders far through the property, which provided almost complete solitude and opportunites to play out in the middle of sparkling shallow water; a before-dinner swim in the most welcome pool; an evening walk through fields or woods; and a late evening turn around the labyrinth again. The meals were beyond delicious; the chapel, dining room, and living room were all elegant in their simplicity and beautiful use of woodworking craftsmanship; the atmosphere was Jesuit and ecumenical; and the mosquitos were in abundance.
My retreat was a difficult one. I had read that sometimes retreats are full of light and ease, and sometimes they challenge and disturb. Now that I look at some of the images I brought back with me, I see both light and darkness in abundance. The Christian journey exactly.