I woke on my second day to bird chatter. At the feeder, 4 house sparrows (♂♀), 3 black capped chickadees, 1 nuthatch, 1 northern cardinal (♀), and a tussle between 2 chipmunks below. I am excited to head out on the trails.
Before I begin, I make a conscious decision to invite the Father with me on my hike. It may sound ridiculous….I am walking on His ground, but I find the solicitation alluring. Perhaps because of this He will speak to me? Perhaps He will reveal my purpose in this world? That’s my goal here; In the midst of solitude, to find who I am and to find my purpose.
We head out to the grainery.
The grainery is quiet. It is a rustic shack. I enter inside, not knowing what I would find. Inside there is a cot with a simple cushion and a chair with an end table. On the end table are journals wrapped in plastic. Similar journals are also in my hermitage. They are the voices of souls from past retreats. Hundreds of them. I will not read them now, but save them for later.
I continue on the trail. It is perfect out, sun- maybe 70°F, breezy with cotton ball clouds quickly moving from the north against a crystal blue sky. Butterflies bask in the sun. I find them on chairs, on leaves, in bushes, with their wings outstretched in the sun.
I find a seat in the shade and have lunch: salami with mustard on whole wheat, banana, iced apricot green tea. I sit up and look behind me (I don’t know what made me think to do this). There is an inch worm the size of a piece of thread, inching across the chair. He is so fragile, so delicate, but not insignificant. He makes giants stop what they are doing and take notice.
This place is bursting with wildlife. A boisterous band of blue jays compete with “clucking” from chipmunk. My lunch time entertainment.
I reflect on my life and the decisions I’ve made. I see shortcomings and wish I could raise my children all over again. I do not see where I am going but I know where I don’t want to go. I want to live in the moment, beyond emotion, with purpose, intention, and obedience to the Father. So where is it? Where is my direction?
I find a swing in the clearing. It has a tiny log for a footrest. I sit on the swing but kick the log aside, for my feet do not reach the ground (which is rare for my height) and I feel as if I’m a child. Back and forth I swing as I look out over distant hills. Those cotton ball clouds cast shadows here and there on the hills. The shadows keep up with the clouds and quickly race across.The sun is hot on my skin and I soak in warmth.
On the swing that doesn’t allow my feet to touch the ground, I feel a message. I’m not ready to learn my purpose. Like a child that wants to drive a car without lessons. It’s not time yet. I feel the Father figuratively pulling me a step backwards and I hear: Do you see the place you have here? Solitude, Peace, Prayer, and Contemplative thinking? Make such a place as this at home and visit Me often!
Okay, I will. This makes sense. I am so busy in life that I have neglected my prayer time and my focus. I have let the craziness of the world, the business of day to day life, rule my emotions therefore preventing me from hearing direction.
My time at Christ in the Wilderness was too short, only 43 hours, less than two days. As per their rules, you must make the bed for the next retreatee with clean sheets provided. I find this very spiritually therapeutic. I am thinking about the next person. I am praying for them. Praying that they find the peace that they need and the One who prescribes peace. I am making the bed look perfect for them, just like it did for me. I am sad to be leaving but hopeful bringing the concept home with me.
So the story doesn’t end here.
With a new fire in my belly, I grab two large bed sheets to create a space in my basement that has never existed. Stapling sheets for walls into the ceiling, I have created a sanctuary.
Inside here is a place for solitude, peace, prayer, and contemplative thinking. I don’t need to be here to talk to God, He is everywhere, but I find the invitation alluring. I now purposefully make time for prayer.
I hope you have enjoyed this journey to my retreat and are able to take a part of it with you.
May God bless you.