Friday, August 10, 2007

Eight Days on Retreat (Part 1)





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.





10 comments:

Cynthia said...

Eight days of silence is almost beyond my imagination. The experience would have to be profound.

Jan said...

Difficult, I am sure--eight days is long. This will be an experience that continues to grow you. Please share about it when you are ready.

RevDrKate said...

Welcome back! You have been in my thoughts and prayers as you retreated. The environment sounds and looks (great photos) really beautiful, and very conducive to contemplation. Light and ease, challenge, shadow and darkness. How wonderful that you can allow all of that to be your experience of the retreat. I have to admit I am more than a wee bit jealous of eight whole days of mostly silence.

Quotidian Grace said...

I'm proud of you for doing this and I'm glad it was a worthwhile experience. The photos are lovely and the retreat center looks inviting--but 8 days in silence is not something I'm personally capable of doing.

Glad you're back!

Carol said...

As one who finds it difficult to remain silent for even eight minutes, 8 days would be a feat I'm not ready to attempt. The photos are beautiful, no surprises there, and the rhythm and routine of the day tranquil and contemplative. Sounds like the perfect environment for the task you undertook. Welcome back.

Katherine E. said...

Welcome back! We've been eagerly awaiting your return, gannet girl! As Kate said, you're been in our thoughts and prayers.

LawAndGospel said...

Welcome back. I will be interested in what you may share as you continue to put things in perspective. I think it would be hard to be silent when a challenging idea is in your midst. Great discipline on your part.

Kathryn said...

I thought today might be the day to find a new post. The best retreats have both - an either/or experience would be too much or too little.

I hope to hear more. Did you speak when meeting with your spiritual director? Was that person helpful as you journeyed?

mompriest said...

of course we always think that the retreats that are light and easy are "wonderful"...but the ones that bring in darkness are usually the most profound and provocative and growth stirring....

and feed us over time.


looking forward to how this retreat continues to feed you in the days, months and years ahead...

welcome "back"

Diane said...

looking forward to hearing more. glad you are back. I can almost feel the water...