Wednesday, June 28, 2017

On Solitude

While our community was on retreat earlier this month, one day of the week was a "Desert Day" - a day devoted to silence and solitude. Mary Oliver writes this in the poem, Today:

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.


They're a pretty powerful combination: silence and solitude. And, I think this poem captures that pretty powerfully. Our retreat presenter, Bonnie Thurston, talked about the way that Thomas Merton's "ego-driven quest for God" eventually led to a self softening; his journey took him to solitude. I personally struggled quite a bit during our Desert Day because my ego had placed some expectations on the way I wanted to encounter the Divine. It took until evening, playing with some water colors, for my "voodoos of ambition" to finally rest. And what a gift it was - I actually felt myself just being, just letting God grace me with the gift of upholding. May we all have experiences like that in our lives - where we experience peace in our hearts at rest - true prayer.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Daylilies for days!