Catherine Doherty, a friend of Thomas Merton, popularized the poustina monastic experience. A little cabin in the woods, where you went off to live simply and be with God.
Roy and I had an experiment of this when we joined a Christian community called Pacem in Terris in Minnesota, oh, I guess 19 years ago, for a brief retreat.
We lived in the snowy woods, in a simple pine heated cabin. The hosts brought us a simple breakfast and lunch in a basket—bread and cheese, as I remember, and we joined them for dinner.
We went to seek God. I remember reading that when one goes on retreat to seek God, the first thing you become aware of is your overwhelming tiredness. It’s okay then to spend the first day sleeping. You do not realize how tired you are until you give yourself permission to rest.
It astonishes me when we go away to rest and renew to discover how tired I really am. I woke late yesterday, prayed, wanted to study a bit of scripture, but instead felt sleepy, and napped. And I napped in the afternoon too, and briefly before dinner. What? Could I really have been that tired? All the adrenalin has drained out of me, and I am suddenly aware of the physical tiredness, and the sleep lag I have been keeping at bay with thermoses of green tea!!
I slept 12 hours last night. Roy is exhausted too. He sleeps when I do, around midnight, but then wakes the girls up at 7.15. After a whole term of this, he’s tired too.
I am really enjoying being in Lee Abbey. I sat in the sunroom of our cottage today, and watched Red Admiral and Painted Lady butterflies outside in the garden, then walked down to the beach, and sat on the rocks, relaxing.
Never miss a chance to go to the beach: That is one of my life’s resolutions.
Now playing family games–Anagrams, a Victorian word game. Word and knowledge games are my favourite, perhaps because I am not as patient and as good at strategy games as my family (everyone else is brilliant at chess, for instance).
I think going away for a few days gives one a change to take a break from one’s work, and see it in perspective, to have good family time and family bonding, and often to come back with new ideas, new energy, and new perspective on one’s life.
Lee Abbey has a private beach 250 metres from our cottage, and I love sitting on the rocks, and watching the tide come in.
tomorrow to hike on exmoor, amid the sheep, goats and ponies, and walk on some more beaches.