Saturday, December 06, 2008

closet hermit?

For all the words that can be used to describe a retreat, for me (this time) the word has been seclusion. The desire, the palpable need for isolation has been creeping up on me slowly, probably without my even noticing... until this week... when my time could take almost any form I wished, (except talking of course) I found I had no wish to walk outdoors, to explore nature or even the bookshelves. I had no desire to eat my meals with other people, even when they were in silence. I ate alone and quickly, and came back each time with relief and gratitude to the two rooms and a bath which had graciously been provided for me to use.

Solitude in such a deep form is not necessarily available in community. We do things together... eat, pray, work, recreate. There is plenty of time alone, but it is broken up every day by times of togetherness. This is what I have not had this week: togetherness. Even in chapel there is an empty seat between me and the brothers. I am cut off, an observer. It should not have been a surprise that this would be exactly what I needed, but I wasn't prepared for how strongly I would guard and protect it for myself. At home I am much more available if someone needs me for something. Here I was a specter in the halls.

Tomorrow it ends. I'm not at all sure how that will be. Guess I'll find out tomorrow. :)

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