For the past 3 years, this week-end would be the one I would spend at Mepkin Abbey: communing with monks, walking the grounds, reading, reconnecting with friends, and working on writing projects. But because of a series of events, we moved our trip to February, and I found myself home alone while my spouse flew to his board meeting in North Carolina.
I had thought I would have a monastery-like week-end here. I decided to go ahead and take yesterday off. I'd gotten my leave time approved, and the end of the year approaches, when my leave time evaporates. I decided to have a day spent in writing projects and contemplation.
It both happened that way and didn't happen that way. I did get some work on writing projects done, but not the ones I planned to work on. I did do some cooking, but not the bread baking that I planned to do. To be fair, even the Mepkin monks no longer do their own bread baking, since Brother Boniface died. I walked the grounds here, but I was mowing the lawn.
I'm most struck by silence issue. I didn't talk much, but I had NPR on most of the day. Our NPR station doesn't switch to music until much later in the night, so my day was filled with talk.
By the end of the day, I was feeling a bit of anxiety. I often feel a bit of anxiety as the sun begins its slow descent. But I think I also felt anxiety because of the coverage of Hurricane Sandy. Would I feel the same anxiety if I didn't live on the other end of the hurricane corridor? There's that survivor's guilt that comes from having dodged a bullet. There's that terror in knowing that the odds are against me. How long before it is me without power and water, picking up the sticks of my smashed house/life?
My thoughts turned to Thomas Merton; I've gotten to the point in The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage where Merton gets permission to build the hermitage he wants, instead of the tool shed that he's been utilizing. What would Merton make of our super-connected life?
I'm fairly certain he would tell us to turn off all of our gadgets and tune in to God. And so, at the end of the day, I turned off the radio and picked up my prayer book (The Divine Hours, by Phyllis Tickle). I read the Compline prayers. I turned off the lights and fell right into sleep.
feeling the feelings…
5 months ago