The chapel is austere, white, and the eleven monks leading the service wear simple white robes. Bells ring. I enter in, finding a seat at the back but also in the middle. I listen. The sound of their deep voices in unison, reading the Psalms, calms my rapid heartbeat and the quaking within.
A reading from 1 Corinthians 5 sounds harsh, it is the only verse I hear that stays with me. Back in my room I write the entire series of verses in my notebook. I ponder them, feeling angry, also sad. I see myself in Paul, who is still carrying some of the old religious zealot within, using words like judgement and expel. I see myself in the sexually immoral, the greedy, the swindler, the idolater. I cringe, thinking, certainly God should expel me, banish me- even as I would banish myself.
I remember, before sleep the night before, going to the book of Hosea. The word reconciliation plants itself dead center in my heart as I fall into sleep.
Time to go to the water. Time to leave it all alone. With my camera swinging around my neck I go. There cautiously, slowly, I walk out upon a tree that has fallen over and reaches out into the river. I find a perch within the intersection of two branches, steadying myself, looking down at the water below.
The wind whips without and within, and I breathe. So deeply. Sunshine- bright, reflecting off the waters of a mighty river. Here I am trusting a tree, bent over, roots exposed, to hold me as I gaze at the world around me from a different perspective. Exhilirating.
But sitting isn't enough. I HAVE to stand there in the crook of the tree, over the moving waters.
On the way back the word reconciliation resurfaces and I receive it for myself, for those I love, for the world. Grace.
This all before my first morning meeting with Joan and our writers group. The remainder of the day held many more nuggets-our group is moving towards building intimate relationships with one another. Some of us took a hike together this afternoon, sharing bits and pieces of our life stories. A closeness is developing quickly, a sense that we are safe to share without fear. Insightful conversations over dinner. I am grateful.
Yet a reminder came during our evening gathering of the other purpose I came here for. Yes, I came to write. But there was something else I needed to allow the solitude here to help me do, something maybe more important.
I need to listen to my inner child, spend time with her, let her lead me. Tomorrow I will begin my day focusing on just that. She holds the key to an important insight I now need in my life, one that will also deepen my love for God.