Arriving on the first day, I was greeted by a gentle storm. I love storms. I love the excitement and the unknown. The mood is a little more reverent. There is a certain amount of waiting involved…watching the sky, listening, pausing. So I was beyond thrilled to encounter dark skies on my first night. God knows I love storms.
Sister Julia warmly greeted me in the parking area upon arrival. There are three hermitages at Christ in the Wilderness. They each have their own private hiking paths to traverse on to be able to gain access to the residency. Signs labeled “Private”, make others aware that they should avoid this trail. It is charming to have to walk to your place of stay. With rain drops trickling down leaves overhead, we made our way to my hermitage: Paul of Tarsus.
Nearing the end of my private trail, seeing Paul of Tarsus put a huge smile on my face as my dream is to have a tiny house off grid. Well, it is not off grid (there’s electricity and plumbing) but it is a tiny house. Delightful.
With a few simple instructions and handing over the key, Sister Julia was on her way back and I was on my way to solitude.
The very second I was alone, my brain went into a billion different directions at once:
- Oh! Put the food away…not messy – neatly! Perfectly line those cans of soup!!!
- Oh! Hide your clothes! This place looks like a mess already!
- WAIT! No, take a picture before you wreck it!
- Make some tea!!
- No, WAIT! Listen to the rain!
I am amazed at how my spirit couldn’t settle down. My mind literally could not focus on one thing. Earlier in the day, I had a lot of running around to do before I could start on my trip. Many errands went wrong, I had to improvise, and it made me nervous running out of time. Perhaps that’s why I was so distraught?
But then I felt a feeling in my heart say, “Let’s just stop and sit for a bit, Christine.”
I am sitting on the chaise lounge of the screened-in porch, surrounded by ceiling to floor windows. What started as a few sprinkles has turned into a steady stream of rain. There is a bird feeder across from me. A male northern cardinal takes shelter under the shrub close to the feeder.
The rain is making a beautiful song. The steady crash on the leaves makes a low chorus and the light dribble coming off the house makes a high pitched melody.
Suddenly I feel another inclination….another feeling….
Go! Go into the wilderness!! Go play in the rain!
I put my raincoat on and race out the door. I refuse to put my hood on because the rain is warm and I do not need to impress anyone. Let the rain soak my hair. Let the rain ruin my make-up. I am free.
The sky makes a gentle groan. Not a grumble, not a rumble, but a weak groan far in the distance. The light is escaping as I find my way to a creek.
A chair and a gigantic wooden spool makes companions to the tiny stream. The spool for a table has lichen and different color mosses growing on the top. What a magical place for an intermission. I continue on the trail and notice sitting spots in every nook and cranny.
I hear more groaning from the sky. My hair is drenched. Raindrops running down my scalp feels like the Father stroking my hair….perhaps it is.
Around the corner of the trail, I frighten some deer which in return frightens me as I was not expecting them. Then I laugh.
Walking back to Paul of Tarsus, I feel as if I am in a fairy tail. I have the enthusiasm of a twelve year old as I jump over the narrow creek and head home. I pray:
Thank You for helping me to settle down.
Thank You for helping me to live in the moment.
Help me to hear You and obey.