Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Still Unplugged...

Week two of the internet-free experiment and I'm surviving nicely.
Of course, they've seen me at the coffee shop far more often
than they had in the past, but that works for me. And I am finding
that I really have far less need for being on-line than I had myself
convinced that I needed. Of course, I'm not a student nor is my
"work" on-line...and I can send and receive email from my phone,
so I am really connected all the time...even when I sometimes
would rather not be.

Which brings me to the retreat I'm taking part in this weekend.
Begins Sunday afternoon, actually, and goes until Tuesday p.m...
led by a wonderful, spiritual woman who I met many years ago
at my favorite retreat center, Well of Mercy in Harmony, NC.
This retreat is being held at a B&B in western NC and there will
only be seven of us in attendance, all women in ministry. Kathryn,
our leader, has chosen the title "In the Bleak Midwinter" for our
time together and, other than the three shared sessions, it will
be a silent retreat, something I relish. And in a recent email,
Kathryn informed us that cell phone service is not good where
we'll be, which leads me to believe that internet service won't
be, either, so...NO LAPTOP will go with me...a real disconnection
for three days. Three days of silence...of time to think and pray
and write and just be.

I know that silence frightens some folks, is very uncomfortable
for others, is totally anathema to still others. And even though
I live alone and am not immersed in human sounds much of the
time- other than those I myself generate- I am still often
amazed by the amount of ambient sound there is in my world:
the hum of the refrigerator, the rushing whoosh of the heat,
the traffic on the street, the chorus of neighborhood dogs...
all so omnipresent that most of the time I am oblivious. But
if the electricity goes out- as it did briefly about two weeks ago-
I quickly become aware that our world is indeed a noisy place
and I long for silence, the only sounds those generated by the
natural world...
Sunset on the Mara
It's one of the things I most loved about my visits to the
Masaai Mara in Kenya. At night, in addition to the plethora of

stars visible because of the lack of ambient light, the night
sounds were those of animals and wind. Human noises faded
away, stopped entirely, it seemed, and a feeling of time-
lessness, of endless space, enfolded me like a healing,
comfortable blanket, soothing my spirit and welcoming me
home. Yes, that is how it felt- like a home-coming...as if
my heart and mind and spirit had been yearning for this for
a long, long time. No, I can't explain it...I can only convey
the experience with my less-than-perfect words, because
explanation falls far short of the actuality of what I was
feeling, experiencing there and then.

And so I move toward the weekend with eager anticipation,
thankful for the opportunity to seek silence in a different
place, at a different time. What I will actually find is, at
present, a mystery...a gift to be opened only as the time
at the retreat unfolds. But I will enter into the experience
with arms and heart open wide to receive whatever comes...
thanks be to God.

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