I had not a moment of hesitation when I was asked by my friend Roxane if I wanted to join her for a few days at the Carmelite Monastery again last weekend. When I counted back the months, I realized it was last October the first time I visited.
It was a small feat to actually get packed and go. I kept my eyes peeled for the signs as we drew near. Then suddenly we rounded the corner of the gravel road and we'd arrived.
I brought a grocery box filled with food to donate to the Sisters as they subsist off of those very donations, along with the food they grow in a garden.
I don't know what it is, how it is, why it is, but the moment I got out of the car my burdens started to ease. I breathed fresh air deeply. The wind was stiff, but not too cool. Rain threatened in the distance and the clouds were abundant.
But the richness of the greens around? Life affirming. Dripping with color, saturated with such intense green. I said a hasty good bye to the boys and Rick and hurried in to find "my room." The soft blue walls, with the antique white bedspread, the worn bible with the black rosary strung across it on the nightstand. It feels like coming home.
Within moments of my arrival, the bell sounds in the distance and its lunch time. The video below is from my first visit, but the sound is precisely the same. Somehow, I'm in tune with the bell. It quietly beckons for me to come and nourish my body.
Yet I was restless after dinner. My head still swimming with the momentous treatments ahead of me and how they would affect me, and Superman, and the boys.
So I grabbed my camera and headed outdoors, and each click shifts my focus, away from ME and towards all that is right in front of me. I completely lose myself in walking the grounds, snapping photos, getting caught in the drizzle of the rain.
I am eyes, ears, breathe.
Its quiet. But its when I become completely still, I then suddenly become in tune with the non-quiet. Because the birds are chirping. And the wind is whipping through the trees rattling the branches and ruffling the leaves.
Psalms 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God;"
And then the squawking begins.
Its guinea hens! And oh how they scold when I approach too closely.
Dare I say God has a sense of humor?
My stillness retreats with me inside.
I look through my photos...
The more still I become, the more minute my focus becomes... the bigger my God feels.
The weekend unravels my mind. Hushes my spirit. Quiets the unrest.
Roxane and I share our views on faith, and life and everything.
Mother Joseph requests a visit and she is wise, humorous, warm, and so filled with light it radiates from her. I feel bathed in peace and grace after our visit.
She asks if I'll come back and visit again? I so will, indeed, I will.
We leave Sunday night.
I leave... ready... still... and knowing.
I'm slowly recovering this week. I tire easily and have had some bouts with nausea.
But I've been completely overwhelmed with gratitude at just how well I've done overall. I feel its nothing short of a miracle that I am still me.
I spent the whole weekend last week, listening to bells beckon me to eat, to pray, to sleep. How truly profound that closure came for me in a celebratory ringing of my own bell.