A few short hours ago our daughter took off to Tokyo for eight days. As with any mother this draws out conflicting emotions: pride because She’s so worldly at 23; excitement because It’s sure to be a great adventure for her; terror because my baby girl is flying halfway around the world and I can’t protect her. To be honest, it didn’t help that she announced her plans the day the Air France flight disappeared into the Atlantic. I guess a seat sale was too good to pass up, so now she and two friends are off.
Several months ago when I was dealing with a sudden job loss Hilary had offered her place to me to use as a retreat site while she was at work each day. I was moved by the gesture. It told me she understands that when I’m feeling?you fill in the blank?what I most need is time, space, and silence to come to grips with whatever ?it? is. She knows I retreat into books and my thoughts to make sense of things, to help with decision making, to regroup, to establish an action plan. And while I sorely needed to do all that in March I graciously declined her offer.
Now I’m taking her up on it. I will house-sit for her and do a self-directed retreat for me. It won’t be my first time and I’m looking forward to recreating the environment for introspection, catharsis, insight, and renewal. I know That’s a tall order for just a few days but it boils down to intention and being open to going where the process takes you.
My first retreat, eight years ago, was a two-day, silent, self-directed one done at a religious centre. I saw and spoke to no one during my time there. My meals magically appeared in a common kitchen area. There was no television, radio, or telephone. The setting was serene and reverential; my room was feminine and comfortable. Last year I did a week-long retreat at a rustic resort in Manitoba. That was more accidental in the sense that it was to be a getaway for two. At the last minute Roy couldn’t go, so the focus turned inward and personal. It too was a wonderful experience.
Since I made my decision to do this I’ve been slowly assembling those books and other supplies I will need to make this retreat memorable. I’ll be taking my laptop, a journal, coloured pens, camera, and my walking shoes. Also in the rolling suitcase that we dropped off yesterday is Jennifer Louden’s The Woman’s Retreat Book, because That’s where it all first began for me.
But I will need to guard against using these days in Edmonton to run errands, connect with friends, shop, or otherwise be distracted. But I’m also trusting the wiser, more mellow Hazel to recognize that retreat rules are written on the heart, not stone tablets, and that I will do exactly what I’m supposed to do over the next few days. That is my intention, from where I sit.