Ducks on a Boulder Reservoir Inlet taken a couple of days ago.
t is a bright sunny morning here in Colorado. Our intense cold and snow has moved on to the part of the country where some of you reading this live, and I'm hopeful that my son and his family have a safe drive from Nashville to Asheville, NC, where they will be spending Thanksgiving with his Dad's extended family. Grandson Sam (flying with his Mom and Dad from Colorado) told me Monday that he was excited about going to a state he hadn't visited and seeing all the people. He hasn't gone with his Mother to Nashville for some time and doesn't remember all of those he will see in Asheville. It will be odd in some ways not to be there and normal in others as Thanksgiving has been a hit and miss holiday with family for me for years.
I find much for which to be thankful as always, but want to focus on my recent visit to St. Benedict's Monastery in Old Snowmass (near Aspen) for a silent retreat. It wasn't long planned nor was it a retreat that I knew that I needed until after the scholarships fell into place so I could go. We were fortunate to arrive at the Monastery on Monday, November 4th before snow began to fall in the valley. The next morning we awoke to softly falling snow covering the ground and accenting the quiet.
Shortly after we arrived the first blessing of my retreat appeared when a young woman got up and walked toward me saying she believed we were acquainted and she was Sarah. Sarah had been one of the bright spots in my early days in Boulder and at St. John's, but we had lost touch several years ago. She now lives above Lyons and is a free-lance editor, with lots of professional editing experience behind her. We were both delighted to connect and met last Thursday to catch up and talk about working together on my memoir manuscript which I had already planned to work on again. Sarah said she hoped to accompany and support me as I work to hone the manuscript once again. I'm hopeful that the material that I gave her won't be too difficult for her.
My roommate Mary Ann was making a diet test during our time there so she prepared and ate her meals in our room--an unusual way of retreat participation and a big unsettling for room silence at times. She is, however, an excellent roommate as far as not talking goes and very considerate in so many ways. I do, however, go as a support for her--driving (her Subaru) and providing a hiking/walking companion.
Silence at these retreats includes no eye contact, which is hard at meals and not always possible with a roommate. The Benedictine monks are gracious (quietly) about those of us of other faiths participating in their communion services, but I choose to attend the first morning, the Thursday evening, and the Sunday services while Mary Ann goes most mornings. I especially enjoy the evening Vespers which I attended regularly. The monks' chants, the silence and the candlelight with the lighted stained glass window of Mary holding the babe lighted make for a lovely way to end the day.
Walks and talks with the three people who staff the retreat are offered each afternoon. All the times with Mary Ann from New Mexico, who has staffed these retreats for years, were quickly filled with me in one of her slots. When talking with her for my 30-minute allotment, I said that I felt drawn to the young monk who was one of the three staff members, but didn't know what we would talk about or why I felt that way. She suggested that I sign up and tell him that I didn't know why.
There are others too whose presence, sharing at the ending circle and brief visits during the last dinner and breakfast, made a difference. I think of the Monks and their daily lives of work and prayer with Thanksgiving, especially for my young monk friend and his faith.
Blessings, peace and love from my home to yours.
PS: Son Mike just phoned from the side of the Interstate in Nashville, waiting for a tow truck as his tuned-up ready-to-go car had slipped a belt. He said it would only delay them for a couple of hours as they could drive another vehicle and glad to have the break-down occur locally rather than on the Interstate between cities.