Sunday, November 04, 2012

Spirit Lift

It's been far, far FAR too long since I visited my spiritual home.  Every six months or so (at least once a year), I take a journey to a monastery near my home and spend the weekend at a spiritual retreat amoung the Benedictine nuns and fellow retreatents.  For some reason, this time I haven't been there in 18 months.  I've let a hectic life get in the way of my returning there for far too long, and I almost didn't go this time, but something inside me said GO! and I'm so glad to have followed that internal directive. 

I took some beautiful fall pictures of the monastery but must have deleted them or something weird because they aren't on my camera or my computer.  Oh well, the experience was surreal anyway, and maybe a blog entry about a weekend of silence and inward turning is best NOT captured with photos.  But if I run into them, I'll post them later.

Whenever one goes on a retreat like this, I believe everything . . . the timing, the people there.  . . . the situation, are all significant and pose a message for the inner self.  This was a Thomas Merton focused retreat.  He was a Catholic priest and mystic who who wrote The Seven Story Mountain, a spiritual autobiography, that became a bestseller in the 1960's because so many people in our busy and frantic society feel not only dissatisfaction, but an inner yearning for a meaning that is often elusive in day-to-day life.  Thomas himself might be described as inwardly "restless" and very identifiable to others in his flawed but awakened self.  Reading and learning about his life really drew me in and was quite inspiring.

The people there were just phenomenal.  As we read Merton together, prayed and mediated upon his writings, we were all drawn together in a way that was very moving.  We journaled.  We had time together, as a group, to explore his writings, as well as time apart, in the silence of our rooms.

I'm writing this entry a few weeks after the retreat was over, but nevertheless, I still feel a sense of stillness, peace and oneness when I even reflect upon the weekend. 

One important message that came out of it, though, was that even in craving the 'sameness' of things, everything that occurred over this weekend reminded me that I have to be ready and willing to CHANGE and be adaptable when things don't go quite my way.  I got lost in going there, because the monastery had quite literally changed the way you could enter into the convent - there had been some rebuilding/remodeling going.  So even when you THINK you know the way of something, there are changes that need to be adapted to, and accepted, or else one simply loses peace of mind.  The changes are there, even in the beautiful place I return to each year for solace, and yet, if those changes are adapted to and you learn to "Zig" when there's a "Zig" and "zag" when there's a "zag" then you can return to the peace that is always there when you wish to return to it.  The peace is in ME not in the constancy of a place in the outer world, but in the constancy and oneness that is in me and ALL of us whenever we turn within.