Clarity in the Clearing – CITW Part 3 Final


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.


  1. I can identify myself in what you are going through. Thanks for being God’s voice to me too. I love how you include God in your blog as well as in your art. May God bless your blog and your art always.

  2. Your comment regarding shortcomings and wanting to raise your children all over again rang a bell with me. I felt that way for many, many years, but now at age 75 I find that in spite of all the mistakes and all that went wrong, everything turned out as it should have. Not that some of it has turned out well at all (in my mind), but that it has turned out as per God’s plan, much of which still makes little sense to me because I, as a human being, don’t see the great picture. But we must learn to live with our mistakes even in our children, and let God take care of those things we can no longer do anything about because we live in finite time and can’t go back to undo what happened. Still, God (Christ) will redeem our mistakes somehow even when we can’t see that far ahead. It may not even be for generations, but there is a plan by Him and His will will ultimately be done no matter how clumsy and stupid and in error we were. He still loves us, and I believe that deep inside.

    And so I have found peace in my life in the midst of turmoil that is still ongoing with my children. There are problems I have been forced to give to God as He has given me no other choice, and all I can do is pray and tell Him I’m sorry for my errors and sins—-and then leave it in His hands. That gives me the freedom (most of the time) to live in the NOW, to pray and be thankful and to be aware of all those little miracles you mentioned that you saw in your retreat and that as an artist you probably see every day.

    You will find your way. You just have to have patience since God’s time is not our time. In the meantime live in the moment with gratitude, and also try to remember that not all that went wrong was because of your shortcomings. We live in an age and in a society that grows steadily more GodLESS, more materialistic, more trivial, more self-indulgent and violent, and those influences were also part of the picture and were also things you had little or no control over.

    Do enjoy your little retreat and continue painting as painting forces you to “look” at things and actually SEE them, and when we see all those small miracles all around us every day—-well, I don’t know how else to put it except that most days my heart almost bursts with gratitude. And when I show my paintings I try to convey those miracles that we take for granted to those who see my work. That’s become my calling at this age, and it came upon me gradually over the years without God having to say a single word directly to me.

    May God bless you and help you to find peace. Thank you for sharing your retreat with us.

    1. Rose, Thank you for sharing you personal struggles with your children. You have pointed out some key ideas, which I have to remind myself over and over again….. I do not have control…….God is in control and He has a plan.
      How comforting are your words!
      Thank you!!

  3. What a beautiful essay. I too spent time at CITW in the same hermitage, this Spring. It also rained on my arrival! Your story could have been my story except for your beautiful illustrations. I sat on the same deck and watched the birds, sat on the same bench, enjoyed the deer and the turkeys too, let my feet dangle on the same swing and made up the same bed for the next one to come. We may have asked the Father different questions but we received the same love and affection during our stay. CITW is such a blessing. I am happy that you made your own place back at home and I hope you and I are both able to return to CITW often.

    1. Marjorie, isn’t CITW wonderful?!!?!! How neat to hear from a fellow retreat-ee. The one thing I did not see were wild turkeys…..darn! Maybe next time! Yes, I hope we are able to visit our gem often.
      Blessings to you, Marjorie.

  4. What a perfectly lovely experience… so grateful you brought me along. You’re a woman after my own heart! It was just the reminder I needed. ❤ Ruth

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