Monday, May 23, 2016

Carmel



“Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy's flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.” 

 Ann Voskamp


The air shifts as we reach the winding gravel road.  Our voices still, and we visually feast on the richness of the land.  We're here... and its begun to feel like "we're home."  We're a mere 45 minutes from our homes, but yet it seems like a distant place and time.


We've never been to Carmel of Mary, in May.


As Roxane pulls into the driveway near the guest house,  we simultaneously breathe deep, delighted by the fragrance of lilacs and giggle as our actions mirror each other. We know what awaits us... we know.




Its early evening and as Roxane busies with some work, I step out of the house.  Sensing the sun lowering I simply stroll around the grounds.  With the magnitude of the quiet, and the pure absence of any responsibility you'd think I'd have some profound thoughts.  But its like my head heard the word, retreat, and my brain said "sure, why don't we?"  

So I simply allow myself to soak in every little nuance of light, and the smell of earthiness, and feel the energy of the wind, and renewal that comes with the season of spring. 

And I start to wonder about the horse?  Will she be waiting in the field?  And I haven't seen the guinea hens in a long time, have they survived this harsh environment so different from that of their native land?  






As the sun lowers I merely work at opening my heart to whatever story may unfold.  


The sun shines bright the next morning as we prepare for mass at 7. It's Pentecost Sunday, and we'll meeting with Mother Madonna later this afternoon.





As we leave the chapel, my first surprise visitor saunters off in the distance. Roxane and I hear the unusual squawking before we even see her.  She seems alone.  She flies up on the rail of our porch, then hastily retreats as we draw near.  



Soon enough we're heading back over to the monastery for lunch.




The sisters always prepare home made, delicious meals that we fondly look forward to.  Shortly after morning mass, the bell rings, beckoning us to come.  The meals await on a turnstile which we gather and bring to the dining table, where Roxane and I dine alone.  And on this day?  A slice of cake with a lit candle in celebration of the Pentecost- or the church's birthday. 




Its after lunch that I slip outside into the warmth of the sunshine.  


It isn't long and I see her.  She is who I've longed to see... Ann's words echoing in my mind...  

"Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks."


She's on bended knee, and doesn't get up the whole time I walk around the outside of the fenced pasture, speaking to her.   Her ears perk up but still she doesn't move. So I whisper my thanks as I pray she is ok.  Several times I make a trip out to visit.  She is always laying down near the same spot. I have no one to ask.  



I saunter off to discover what new sights I can uncover.












I notice such small details.  Like how everything seems to be leaning and bending, creating paths that invite you to walk along.  


I go and visit Mary.  




As I walk all the way around her, I see it.  Mary's hand.  Open, outstretched.  Ann's words echoing in my head again...


"...Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. "  

  
I walk on... in and about the big trees lining the road.  I possibly walk by it at first, but then I see it just below the arching tree branches. 


"...the small..."

The tulip is bending and leaning too... just the one.  No other tulips in sight.






I'm near the edge of the grounds now, near the road. I'm watching the willow tree branches dancing in the wind.

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”  Bruce Lee




I circle back, my steps reaching into the thousands today, and yet physically I feel strong. I'm emptying, and filling at the same time.



I go all the way back to the pasture behind the house.  Checking on her one last time.  She's up!  She is eating, and I quickly offer thanks for her well-being.  




Later in the afternoon, Roxane and I go to meet with Mother Madonna.  I've written a note with some prayer requests to leave with the sisters. I tuck a donation inside, knowing the sister's live off of the giving of the community.  With the lessons of "bending and leaning," freshly seeded in my mind.



"And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.” 

 Ann Voskamp




As the light shines through the dark clouds, the sunbeams stream down over the top of the bell tower. It's time to leave and I'm already longing to return. 







19 comments:

  1. Oh my, so very beautiful. A retreat is such a blessing, a gift to yourself. Thanks for taking us along: I can almost smell the lilacx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for choosing to come along, Susan! I adore checking in and finding so many of you dropping in to visit- I truly cherish you so!

      Delete
  2. Dear Vicky, each trip we take to Carmel is more and more special. What a gift God has given us in these reprieves on his holy land. You've done a remarkable and beautiful job of capturing our visit. It is yet another gift. Love you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such truth in your words, Roxane- Amen. Love you, too, dear friend.

      Delete
  3. I needed to exhale today. I knew it from the moment I woke. Your opening quote-- Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears--was what He told me to do this morning.

    He cares so deeply about what concerns us. I'm grateful He revealed Himself to you in new ways at Carmel this spring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ann just says it for me, in ways that I don't even try to achieve. I always feel the way she speaks to me- will resonate with others as well. Happy it resonated with you today!

      Delete
  4. Oh my dear sweet soul sis,
    Such a busy and crazy day I had and I truly felt like somewhere along the line I quit taking deep, deep breaths, the kind you take when you fully surrender and let go.
    And then I read your post and with each word and mesmerizing picture I let go...more and more. I could smell the lilacs, see the green trees, root with you for the dear horse to get up and be okay, and hear God's whisper of love and care. Yes, the stiffest tree is most easily cracked and the bamboo or willow survives by bending into the wind. Yes, you and dear Ann have reminded me that I CAN empty and let it all go because counting His graces has reminded me go how much He cherishes me.

    What a huge GIFT you gave me today, my dear friend. What a cherished reminder of His holy presence. I am so, so grateful you went to Carmel and shared your retreat with all of us. Your words washed over my heart like cleansing rain.
    Love you to the moon and back, dear Vicky!!
    God Bless!
    Linda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for expressing my own thoughts so clearly, dear Linda. XO

      Delete
    2. I'm very honored by your heartfelt words, always, friend. You truly touch me, and I feel touch and minister to others through what you share here! You are such a treasure and I love reading, then re-reading and soaking in your beautiful perspective. Thank YOU for sharing your heart so eloquently. Love you dear soul sis!!

      Delete
  5. As I have spent this day hustling and bustling to try and get my own life all in order in preparation for my own retreat, I too forgot to breathe, as Linda said. But reading your experience so meaningfully conveyed caused me to let go and relax and think of sleep and retreating.

    I'm really glad you went back and I hadn't thought of the horse until you mentioned her and then I was so worried. Glad to see her standing and thank you for capturing the feel and beauty of this blessed sanctuary that has become your true friend. Love you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your way with words- always- you have such a gift. Yes- this "blessed sanctuary" has become a true friend- exquisitely said. I am so beyond thrilled you are going to one too!! I think the silence will be such a challenge and at the same time so rewarding!! I think it will help you restore, recharge, and replenish you in ways you can only imagine. Thank goodness, this time its YOU first! I love you so, friend!

      Delete
  6. Oh, Vicky...your words, your pictures....so beautiful! Thank you for sharing and reminding us to pause...right where we are...to take in what He has blessed us with!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kim- so great to see you here! Thanks for coming along with me and taking the time to drop in and see me. I pray you are well!

      Delete
  7. Oh Vicky...I just breathed deep- every single time you writ about this serene place, I. Breathe. Deep. Your words were like water to a thirsty soul my friend and your photos...I honestly smelled lilacs-thank you for sharing your art my friend xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time, sweet one, to come and spend time with me here- I appreciate the visits these days more than I can possibly say. I just know you would love time at this very special place- and they'd love having you there as well!

      Delete
  8. I pray that your visit completely engulfs you with a peace that no one can understand. As you come away refreshed, please know that your friends wish this for you every moment of each and every day.
    Love you,
    Jackie

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just gorgeous. Thank you for giving us "eyes to see."

    Love you, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi dear soul sis,
    You were on my heart this morning, and I just wanted to send loves and hugs and prayers your way. I scrolled through these amazing and life-giving photographs this morning...and peace took over my heart. I truly felt like I was there, with you, during your retreat. So thank you for a mini retreat this am before I go off to school.

    You are a treasure, dear Vicky. Love you to the moon and back again!
    Linda

    ReplyDelete

I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

Popular Posts

Minnesota.com

Minnesota.com - MN Weather, Map, Businesses and Blogs