Friday, May 13, 2011

Silent Saturday: refreshment, renewal, reminder

It was a cool and foggy morning and I arrived 
30 minutes early. 
That almost never happens. 
Setting out lovely snacks and interesting reading material was a retired clinical psychologist who also happens to be a nun.  She was gracious and welcoming as I found my way into a high-ceilinged room - a room that used to be 
the ballroom of a mansion, 
then a chapel for the novitiate 
of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart, 
and now is used for all kinds of retreat gatherings.

This lovely, comforting, renewing and reviving space is located less than 3 miles from my home.
So close.
Yet I've been so far.
I'd been here to work,
to lead retreats, but this...
...this was my first visit to their monthly 
Silent Saturday offerings, 
where centering prayer is practiced in community.
This is what I've hungered for,
hungered for a long time now.
Time to be quiet, 
time to center down,
to hunker down,
to re-visit myself 
and to re-connect with God.
There were about 25 of us in the circle, 
mostly middle-aged (and beyond) women 
with a smattering of men.
This is what happened:
3 different 30-minute spaces for silent, centering prayer;
3 times of silent, 
very slow and deliberate walking around 
just outside our gathering space;
and 45 minutes for individual reflection,
anywhere on the grounds.
It was perfect.
Restful, beautiful, tender.
Loveliness all around, no matter where your eye landed.
Color, over and over, brightening a gray day.

I sat under a sheltering oak, far back in the corner of 
a small courtyard.
Architectural details added to the 
beauty of the day and to the depth of the experience.
Beauty somehow speaks to the deepest parts of me -
whether that beauty is divinely created 
or humanly crafted.

My soul needed this day.
And so did my body.
I will be back next month.

Later that day, I continued this mini-retreat 
by driving down to the ocean, 
always a source of life and hope and strength for me.
I took a long walk, soaking in the sights 
and the sounds 
and the smells 
of this wintry afternoon 
in the middle of spring.

And along the way, I was reminded 
of some of the interesting anomalies 
of living in this celebrity-laden, 
resort-funded community.
Where else but here would you find 
tour groups on Segueways??
A little levity is always a good thing.
Somehow seeing those hard-hatted travelers
segueing their way around my favorite parking spot - 
well, it offered a bright smiling moment,
a connection to all the strange wonders of
life on the central coast of California.

Succulents shaped like roses,
sandstone cliffs bracketed by potted geraniums,
the grace and fortitude of an old Monterey cypress,
the regal splendor of a well-trimmed King palm,
a trio of friends walking down the beach.
All of it,
all of it spoke to me of grace, 
of wonder, 
of Presence.
God is good.  All the time.
Last Saturday was a day to revel in that truth,
to celebrate it,
to mark it into my heart.

And God met me there - 
in every silent moment,
in every step walked,
in every color relished,
in every blessed breath.
What is there to say but,
"Thank you!"

Because I've had blogger problems for much of this week, I've just got this one post - so I'm spreading it around a bit by linking with L.L. Barkat at Seedling in Stone On In Around button

and with Suzannah at So Much Shouting So Much Laughter;

so much shouting, so much laughter

and with Bonnie over at the Faith Barista, too: