Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Menucha Part 1: Weathering a silent retreat

Going on a meditative retreat is always a bit of a mixed blessing for me. I love the peace and the stillness, the freedom from the daily grind; love being fed and housed in a way that frees me from my daily responsibilities of feeding and housing in my own life. And I love the sense of renewal and purpose that emerges from these times apart.

What is always difficult, however, particularly in the case of a silent retreat, is the pain of watching my reaction patterns; of seeing how my shadow begins its relentless spin into dark projections as I cope with the challenges of entering new situations and meeting new people unprotected by the masks of language and activity.

The ups and downs of this year's shadow dance were perfectly mirrored by the weather we experienced: daily bouts of snow and hail were leavened with bursts of sunshine and blue sky, and the darkness of the afternoon clouds served as a perfect backdrop to the occasional streaks of light.

The particular location of this year's retreat, the Menucha Conference Center, overlooking the Columbia Gorge in Oregon, was spectacularly beautiful throughout the full range of light and weather, so, as is often true for me, I took refuge behind the camera lens, endeavoring to listen for the Word through my eyes. Today I am slowly walking through the results of my labors, some of which are posted here.

But ultimately the gifts of the retreat -- beyond the obvious restorative properties of time away -- were two-fold. The first gift lay in the discovery that, for this time at least, the blessing of a regular meditative practice adhered to throughout the year has resulted in a steadier state for me, so that the highs and lows were less pronounced and there was an even-ness to the time that helped me to be more aware of the combined energy in the room and less concerned with my own foibles.

More importantly, though, I came to understand that the depth of my striving to release the distractions of my constant mental chattering and get in touch with the Divine is more than matched by the Divine's yearning to reach out to me in return. Each time I remember why I am here, stop the chatter, and return to that inner space, it is the Divine which facilitates that moment of metanoia, of transformation back into oneness. The shift happens because God's yearning for me is every bit as piercing as my yearning for God. And if I can remember that, it seems to me that this road I am traveling will seem far less difficult and much less lonely.

1 comment:

kateflan said...

I loved your photos and your blog, Diane--they blessed me! I especially liked your insight about the Divine reaching out for us as we reach out for the Divine--right on! Keep on clicking!