/* /* Eclectic Contemplative: Annual Silent Retreat

Eclectic Contemplative

Driven by a need for a more reflective approach to existence, I am exploring contemplative thought from a variety of traditions, particularly Catholic and Buddhist, in an effort to find a practice that will enable me to access that "inner room" that is at once still and luminous.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Annual Silent Retreat

This year's silent retreat during Holy Week was a mixed bag. My room was sandwiched between two rooms being occupied by married couples - who do not observe silence in their rooms! The security staff still insists on locking the chapel at 10 or 11 pm each night, even though the entire retreat area is locked at dark and many rooms, including the library and refreshment center, are open 24 hours a day. This is inconvenient for me as I am frequently up late at night and prefer to use the chapel for meditation.

Consumer complaints aside, the weather was perfect and the experience was...wholesome is the word that comes to mind for some reason. After a day of coming down from the "outside world", I fell into a rhythm of sitting meditation, walking meditation, and spiritual reading. I allowed myself the luxury of buying books that were available for sale, which is usually a budgetary no-no. I also skipped the holiday masses at the adjacent parish church and all but one of the daily "direction" meetings with the retreat director.

But wouldn't you know on Easter morning at brunch when silence officially ends, one of the retreatants asked me if I had "slept in" that morning, since I wasn't at the morning meeting? He remembered me from a prior year when I had attended the meetings each day and apparently wondered why I didn't this year. Truth was, I just didn't get that much out of them, and even though you don't have to be a practicing Catholic to attend these retreats, it seems that most of the retreatants assume it's a "members only" event.

I try not to be conspicuous about not attending mass or the meetings or not being a practicing Catholic when you get right down to it, but it doesn't always work out. Next year I think I'll out myself as a Buddhist (which is as accurate a description as anything else, I suppose). They would probably have more respect for that. Or maybe I'll take my cue from a fellow retreatant who not only attended no meetings and no masses, but came to the dining hall only long enough to pile his food choices onto a paper plate and head back to his room or out to a private spot in the courtyard.

Well, if this is all I have to say about that, I guess it wasn't all that successful a retreat. But sometimes showing up is the best you can do, like meditation or centering prayer. Not all sessions are great, but consistency is important nevertheless.


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