Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Journal of a Journey.....

(this is the journal entries I made while on the retreat):

In the shadow of reading, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, I found that my 3 days of silence were colored by the book. Firstly, I have never 'meditated', so, finding the 'quiet' in my mind is not happening. However, since the time of check in on Friday afternoon, I have not spoken to anyone. I've just finished reading the book, completely; all pages….I loved the book and will probably read it again, soon. If nothing else comes of the retreat or reading the book, I will be seeking out a place to learn and practice meditation. I am an impatient person, much of the experiences Liz had while on her spiritual journey I can totally identify with….wondering when the magical place you can find while meditating is going to show up for me. I already believe that God and I converse, not as often as I would like….my fault, I know, because all I need to do is pray.

I attended one of the 'hours of the day' prayer service…..the sound of the monks praying is beautiful, like a warm golden, glow of praise and love. I decided I might not be patient enough to enjoy it, yesterday when I was attending, but, today, I am committed to getting the whole affect of my location. The Monastery is beautiful – I'm going to over use that word, I can already tell – the grounds are like a gorgeous garden. The trees are the most amazing trees I've ever seen – accept my Oaks - and HUGE, like mastodon size. The Monastery grows plums, walnuts – which are the trees that shade virtually all of the grounds where the dorms, chapel and kitchen house are – and grapes, for wine. All of the worship houses are simplistic beauty. In St. Cecilia's Chapel is the most haunting white marble statue I have ever encountered – the way the light fell on it at the time I explored the chapel was mesmerizing, I could not help but take many pictures of it. As I leave, I hope to be able to ask the Guest Master, Bob, about the Statue.

Adjacent to St. Cecilia's Chapel is the Chapel of Contemplation and accept for looking inside to see what it looked like, I've avoided it thus far….late last night I considered going to it, I can see if from my dorm room window, just beckoning me, calling out to me.

I did spend some time last evening, just before dusk sitting in a chair gazing up at the sky….facing a large stand of the, again, most amazing evergreen trees – maybe redwoods – I have ever seen. The breeze gently stroked my face and tossed my hair ever so lightly – it felt like God was reminding me that He was there, waiting for me, ready for our conversation, I only have to engage him.

I did not sleep well, dozed off and on all night, never getting comfortable, maybe I am not going to get to sleep until I go to God and talk. I've always had a problem 'getting around' to the TALK. Even in therapy for so long last year, I almost always took until almost the end of my session to get to the hard stuff, the crux of the matter. My counselor would push, poke, prod, cajole, until finally, I broke.......caved…..surrendered….which is what I need to do here and now. It is merely the surrender that we all fear, surrendering has always had the connotation of weakness, therefore, something I do not want to show, but, truly, surrender is the purest form of Faith and that is what I am trying to strengthen, my faith, in God, myself and destiny.
Evening of July 11:

I did visit the Chapel of Contemplation, for almost an hour, to my surprise. I really, really tried to meditate and I feel that for a few brief moments, I achieved a smattering of heightened awareness….maybe, either that or I dosed off. After my contemplation, I did attend noon time prayers, called Sext. I missed the late afternoon, None hour of the day prayer, but, made good on my promise to myself to attend Vespers and Compline – all beautiful and serene and contemplative. I'm more mesmerized by the Monks than the songs, although, the prayers made in song are so compelling, I could not help but want to talk to the Monks and ask them what brought them to this life. At Compline, you are blessed with Holy Water; this is a blessing to carry you through the night, as Compline prayers are for protection through the night from evil. Much like, "Now I lay be down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…."

I had it in my mind that I should not read for the rest of the retreat, however, after what felt like a failed attempt at meditation, I wondered if perhaps reading might provide me with the inspiration I needed to reach that place where I connected with God….then I just took a nap.

After my nap, I took a walk, round the vineyard…man, are there a lot of walnut trees around here….not as many grapevines as walnut trees….and they are just amazing in size and stature. After the walk, it was almost time for Sext…I attended prayers. I'm intrigued by the thought of praying seven times a day….and being called to prayer by the ringing of a church bell. I so want to talk to the Monks, to ask them what this life is like and if it was hard to give up the secular world. I can seriously identify with giving up all material items and giving up the responsibility of the outside world and living a cloistered life…..I just can't get my head around living only for prayer….I am trying to find a way around, wait for it, BOREDOM….I guess if my heart was pure and in love only with God then I could foresee boredom not playing a part in the life of a cloistered Monk/Nun – maybe I'm far too secular to ever understand and it wouldn't matter if I did talk to a Monk…..

They are reconstructing an old Monastery Chapter house from stones brought from France in the early '50's, the structure is under construction right now and there is unfettered access to it, so, as you might imagine, I have photographed it extensively, because how often does one get to photograph a sacred building being resurrected in our times, eh? Unfortunately, there are all kinds of equipment in the way of truly capturing the splendor of the arches and stones without some kind of tool in the shot, but, I tried my best to shoot around what I could. It was kind of eerie walking around out there by myself, almost like I wasn't by myself, like maybe there were some thousand year old spirits guiding me.

I'm still learning how to work the big camera, so, I used this place to practice with the lighting. I think so far, this is the most spiritual I have felt, inside this sacred space, weilding my camera.
I went to the Chapel after Compline and finally got down on my knees and prayed, old fashioned like. Asking God to fill my heart, to show me the way to the path I am supposed to take, to please tell me what I am supposed to do….and then, I tried to listen, but, as usual, my mind got lost…..I did ask for Candace and her family to have peace and to help my little sister and what the hell Steve Hewitt was doing in my dreams…..

P.S. I marked another one off of the "To Do List".....for those of you who love know who you are! ;-)

1 comment:

darsden said...

I have been wanting to pick that book up for myself, now I think I will have too.

The pictures of The Oaks is beautiful, Oaks are my favorite trees!

Sounds like a wonderful retreat :-)