After our early spring vacation to Arizona a few months ago, my life seemed to become exceptionally busy. One thing after another:
facilitating a Boundaries group,
quick but packed getaway to Montana,
40th anniversary celebration,
several family birthdays.
Hey, all good activities my extroverted personality loves. But, I recognized tell-tale signs my soul was weary. I knew it was time to get away and spend some time practicing the ancient spiritual discipline of solitude, which, by the way, is experiencing a 21st Century resurgence.
My favorite place to do just that is in Cottonwood, Idaho, at St. Gertrude’s Monastery, home to a band of warm, hospitable, no-nonsense Benedictine nuns.
Tension in achy neck and shoulder muscles dissolved as I drove through the wide-gated entrance. I know from previous personal retreats at St. Gertrude’s that for the next two full days and nights, my spiritual tank—running quite low about that time—would be filled.
The room I requested earlier—the one with the deep bathtub—awaited. The clean, simply furnished room with quilt-covered bed and gliding rocking chairs positioned in front of a large window overlooking expansive Camas Prairie farmlands, has welcomed many weary souls. It feels safe, and I’m oh, so ready to spend hours reading, writing, walking around the beautiful grounds. I feel at some deep level a longing to be still. A time when I can know God simply and feel known by God deeply.
I arrived just in time for dinner, which is what the nuns call the largest meal served at noon. The smaller evening meal is supper. Meals at St. Gertrude’s are a treat. The food is wholesome and uncomplicated. Each meal includes home canned fruit, raspberry jam and my favorite—dill pickles.
After dinner, I returned to my room, sat in one of the comfy rockers, plopped my feet upon the soft ottoman and fell fast asleep. I’ve heard is said that sometimes the most spiritual thing one can do is take a nap. I agree!
The phone alarm wakened me shortly before the appointment I’d scheduled to meet with the monastery’s spiritual director, Sister Lillian.
What exactly is a Spiritual Director you may be asking?
Hopefully, in the next few months we’ll all have a clearer understanding of spiritual direction. I’m excited to let you know that on September 5th I’m embarking on what feels like the most significant spiritual venture of my life. For the next two years, I will be participating in a program leading to certification as a Spiritual Director. A part of me is terrified; another part of me feels like I’m loco; while yet another part of me—probably the biggest part—feels as excited as a five-year-old waiting for Christmas!
I will be focusing on dynamics related to spiritual direction in the future, including how I was impacted by my visit with Sr. Lillian.
Until then, I’m praying your soul will find rest…