Shapes of a retreat.

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this one is from my friend’s beautiful new house.

this one is from my friend’s beautiful new house.

A retreat. I am an introvert living an extrovert’s life. 

Being an introvert doesn’t mean I don’t love people. It just means that if I don’t get solitude, I start to lose energy and focus, I get exhausted fuzzy around the edges, and if it goes on for a really long time, I start to forget who I am. That’s when I get clingy, peering up at faces to see if they can tell me who I am, tugging on coat sleeves, trailing after monks in the street, casting myself at the feet of the grandmother next door.

Well. That’s maybe where it would end up, if I didn’t retreat.

I walk backwards, very silently, fingers to my lips. Then run!

Actually, no, I just kiss my husband and get in the car. Find a cheap guesthouse in a part of town where I know nobody, and spread out my journals, pencils, computer, books I intend to read but never do, a bag of almonds, my coffee paraphernalia, and my blanket. Do you remember my blanket? I’m still working away on it. It’s the longest delight.

Some things I do on retreat:

Lie in bed and don’t get up.

Look at colors and shapes in the market. A stack of mangos. Embroidery thread. Dried mushrooms. Shapes, smells, and colors are very soothing. Very simple.

Find a park and look at trees.

See a movie.

Write words and words and words and words.

Read.

Paint.

Do the big shopping at the big store. (Sometimes non-retreat things have to be combined with retreat things. This is life.)

Talk to God in long, uninterrupted sentences that can be complainy, boring, or grateful.

Then I run (drive) back under the trees to my family and dog and hug them forever.

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This country that I hail from... well, it's beautiful.

Walking around Oak Bay, Victoria in April - 7

I've been walking around.  Looking at things.

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There are so many things that are so beautiful.  (I tried to take a picture of a woman on a park bench, looking out over the ocean, but she turned around and saw me and I had to pretend I was panning with my video camera, as though that's any less creepy.)

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It feeds me and soothes me in a small, confused space that has been forming inside of me.

Walking around Oak Bay, Victoria in April - 2

I don't understand grocery stores and I fumble with money, but I understand this.

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I've been living like I'm in cotton, like my head can't hold belief. When I wake up I check my email.  I've forgotten how big the world really is, even though I've traveled the length of it.

Walking around Oak Bay, Victoria in April - 1

I've forgotten that connection is all I have. Connection with God who smiles on me even when my head is fuzzy and I've lost my rhythm.  His open hands giving to me always: love from my children, talks with my parents. Good food. Rest.

When I was walking outside I gave myself a shake. The cold wind made me squint but I tried to keep my eyes open, letting them fill with tears, just so I could see the sky for real, the very blueness of it, the way you can't touch it, even though it's right there.

God, I may forget to talk to you, but I know that you never forget me.

Walking around Oak Bay, Victoria in April - 3

(Thank you every one, for your kind invitations.  I have all the emails, so I'll be able to get in touch, and I'll be posting everything here. I don't think anything will be happening until June, but you never know.)