Monday, May 18, 2009

Sneaking Away Once Again

This weekend was BUSY! DH's Ballpark Basement Opening Day started off our weekend with a fun, late Friday night full of friends, food, and fun (even if the game was rained out!)

Saturday morning, BigBro finally got to play in his first baseball game of the season.

We went directly from there to Princess' and LilBro's Dance Recital. (Videos to follow... uploading is a tedious process).

When all of that activity was done, about 2:30pm, I packed up a small bag with a change of clothes, a few books, my Bible, and my laptop, and snuck down to the Hermitage in Pevely, MO.
Arriving just after 3pm, I was welcomed back with a warm hug from Larry Ponder, the Hermitage Director. After showing me to the recently renovated "Beautiful Earth" hermitage, he graciously gave me a full tour of the five other Hermitages I had not seen on my previous visit. We chatted for a few minutes, and then he left me to bask in the peace, the beauty, the walking trails, and the gurgling river.

In April, when I stayed in "Glimpse of Glory," I had a full view of the Mississippi River. "Beautiful Earth" is tucked on the side of the hill, facing into the forest. The sunlight danced and dappled over the leaves of the trees, tracing ever-changing patterns on the small front porch of the hermitage. I opened the windows, turned on the ceiling fan, and curled up in the Lazy-Boy rocker.

Taking a deep breath, I offered up a small prayer of thanksgiving. I listened. I could hear cardinals calling to one another. Other birds responding. Rustling of the leaves. Gurgling of the river. And deep, deep silence. Silence so full that it appears to have an actual, physical presence. I breathed again, slower this time.

My visit this weekend was short, less than 24 hours. But it was deeply refreshing all the same. In 21 hours, I had time to walk, to pray, to sleep, to finish a novel, to start prep work for a retreat weekend, to work through some internal demons with God, to rest, to meditate, to listen to music, to just be... me.

Sunday morning, after a nice long walk, I crawled down the steep embankment to the edge of the Mississippi. The water level was much higher than it had been last month. I crept through the woods, over and under branches, until I found a large, smooth fallen tree trunk, nestled under shady leaves. There I sat, for nearly an hour, still, present, in His Presence.

Reluctantly, I peeled myself away from that trunk and climbed back up the hill to the Hermitages. As much as I wanted to stay right there, in that place of peace, real life was calling me back... we had First Communions to witness on Sunday afternoon.

I packed up my things, fixed up my Hermitage, and made my way up to the parking lot. Larry and I chatted for a few minutes, and then, with one more hug and a promise to be back again soon, I drove down the long, gravel drive back to the main road and my regular life.

But I carried with me the peace of the Hermitages, of my time with nature, with God, with the Silence.

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