August 14, 2009 – St. Benedict’s Monastery
Well, I thought I was done with my floral bouquet, but I deceived both myself and you. I found a few I’d forgotten about, and now have taken some more. A few will appear later, after I’m long gone from here. For now, though, this one spoke to me today. Its downcast face, even while lit from above, resonates with how I have been feeling in the last 12 hours or so. I had a wonderful meal with Mary last night, but for some reason, I could not sleep. I was agonizingly restless. Mind you, it could have been the strong coffee we had at the restaurant, but I think there’s more to it than that. The reason I think this is because the exact thing happened to me at this juncture in my journey last year. Curious, no?
I have several theories as to why, and I think it’s a combination of all of them. Each year of retreat, I have come with a project that has been waiting for the appropriate space to be tackled. I work intensely on it, hardly coming up for air except when necessary, for several days. Then finally, I allow myself to breath deeply. I have a sense of accomplishment. I fully absorb and take time to appreciate all the good that has come from the break.
And then, sometime around midnight of the second to last evening, a feeling of dread, or restlessness, or letdown — a combination of all these — takes hold. Part of it is the turning toward home and all that awaits me there. Though I miss my family and look forward to the reunion, it’s an overwhelming thought to go from this to that in an hour’s time. I think it has to do with the project, too, the breadth of it and what it has taken from me to write it. I am feeling that, too.
Nevertheless, I’m accepting this as part of the process. We cannot live on a high forever. The utopia is a mirage. Real life is a blending of work and play, of sorrow and joy. I don’t wish to deny reality. Without the more somber times, the lightness would not be as clearly felt, either. I am trying to welcome all of it, knowing that no matter what it might seem, it is all part of the gift of life.
And I think of what Mary and I discussed last night — how change comes at us in small steps, making it manageable. Today will be the day for tying up loose ends. Taking time to do laundry and tidy up the apartment will be part of the process of the transition back into home life. Joining in several more communal events — including a blessing of the fruits of the gardens and earth — will all contribute to the sending forth that will allow me a peaceful exit.
This morning at chapel, I was overtaken by the contrasts of Sacred Heart Chapel. Again, it’s the darkless and lightness of life colliding, speaking to me in a profound way. I am drawn to these contrasts. I find them beautiful. My ultimate goal, however, is to reach for light.
This probably being my last post from here, I wanted to thank you all for coming along with me to St. Ben’s. I’ve enjoyed the wonderful exchanges, and sharing my journey. I hope it’s been mostly uplifting to you!
Where and how are you finding light today?