My doctor advised me to rest, not talk. How does someone who spends their working life on a phone do that? I even pray out loud! I’ve signed up for a silent retreat in October – the source of much mirth and wonder among my friends but the quiet reflective bit of me that I would really rather not show too often is secretly looking forward to it. So this is a bit of a cheat – here’s what I wrote the last time I did one of these strange things.
In silence, I notice the ruby red fur on a cow’s back and its curly ginger eyelashes. Hunting owls provide surround sound to head torch beach walks. My retreat guide smiles as I park my boots and attend sessions in thick socks. I walk my praying, sitting by the sea, high up on a cliff: I like to pray aloud.
In silence, people have odd breakfasts: toast, plastered in marmite, so I have grapefruit, yogurt and the bits that normally go with bacon and sausage – which seem to have escaped the menu. I’m noticing faces more: calm ones, easy read ones, poker players, those whose noses don’t leave their book. I don’t feel badly dressed wearing my “not all who wander are lost” T shirt. My breakfast neighbour has flamboyant shirts – they cheer my mornings.
In silence, I paddle in icy rock pools, slide on my backside down wet rock. Get a coffee fix in Lynton that’s a real live “word from God”, see a kestrel preening on a post – amd have only God to share it with. Take photos of fungi, get hopelessly lost (see T shirt) climb over gates and wire. In short I have fun – it beats being at work. Well, mostly, I miss the usual “doing stuff”
In silence, I sleep, and soak in woodland colours and feel the centre of me fill up again like a dry aquifer refilling. It’s peaceful here. The peace is inside too. But outside is the storm. I hear God speak to me through biblical “Job” out the storm, the whirlwind, the Lord answered Job. And me.