Friday, June 26, 2009

A Blessed Time-Out

I'm home and blogging again, after a wonderful journey.

From June 9-14, I was on retreat in Wisconsin with other affiliates of the Order of Julian of Norwich, and then attended our annual JulianFest at the same location. What a heavenly interlude! I would like to be able to do this more often!

This was my very first experience of a silent retreat lasting longer than a day. The facility we used this year is the Redemptorist Retreat Center, located on Crooked Lake in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. It's a fabulous place, as you'll see if you hit the link. I had my own room with a private bathroom instead of a shared one, and more private time than I had believed possible in my busy life.

In fact, after a day fraught with travel delays due to thunderstorms, I had trouble settling down to silence. Out for an early-morning walk the next morning, I noticed that the house of the resident monks was outfitted with a most impressive satellite dish, and found myself pining for CNN.

Fortunately, this longing passed when I discovered the labyrinth. It is large but of simple construction: a fine gravel base on which the paths are demarcated by larger rocks, most about the size of a fist. I walked the labyrinth several times while I was there, and took pictures to bring home. At the Church on the Hill, we have been sighing about not having a labyrinth (we have the space, but we haven't felt that we have the know-how). But this design is one that I feel we might be able to execute ourselves! What a nice feature it would be for the community, since we are located at the intersection of busy county roads.

Our lakeside location was another source of great peace. Crooked Lake is beautiful! To the right is pictured one of my favorite benches. The weather was cool and sunny, the water inviting, but unfortunately the canoe was off-limits to us retreatants. But there was a dock upon which we could walk, with another bench at the end of it.

The retreat center also has an excellent library, where I curled up in a chair during our two silent evenings and digested an entire biography of one of my favorite saints, Edith Stein. I also found many books on the ministry of spiritual direction, in which I am very interested.

I am ready to go back here, anytime!