Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ways to Try

The thing about healing is that the waters are always choppy.

(I keep forgetting that I sort of committed to switching metaphors as I switch blogs. It's the other one where the ocean is paramount. This one is desert. OK. I'll start over.)

The thing about healing is that the desert journey is strewn with impediments: slippery gravel and little rocks and huge boulders. Most of them in unexpected places. The big rocks literally drop down in front of you, like meteorites spun off from an unknown planet and appearing out of nowhere, landing with an unwelcome thud.

It has been my great joy to be one of
Michelle's correspondents on her 30-day retreat. The other night, I decided to go ahead and try to reserve space for a week-long retreat of my own next summer. I could go back to Guelph, which I loved two summers ago, but I'm not much in the mood these days for repeating past experiences. I sort of had in mind to try Wernersville, which friends here have raved about, and which would give me an opportunity to meet Wayne and Michelle en route. And Eastern Point, where Michelle is, has long been a dream of mine, but it's a considerable distance away.

Turns out that Wernersville offers no weeklong retreats that fit my schedule and Eastern Point is booked. I went ahead and filled out the registration form for the waiting list, and that about did me in. Big meteorite thudding to the ground:

The emergency contact questions. There are only a couple of them ~ name and phone number. But we all know that we only fill in those blanks just in case, right? We would never actually need to make use of them.

Last year I was on retreat in Michigan when the call came. I had been there since the previous morning, and I had met with my spiritual director twice. It was unbelievably hot that week and so I had spent much of the afternoon in the air-conditioned library, stretched out on a lusciously soft couch which, aranged as it was back to back with another couch, made me invisible to anyone who might happen to glance into the library, as the secretary did when she looked for me after the emergency call came in. Toward the end of the day I wandered back to my room and saw the note on the door. I was disturbed ~ no one would call you, and there would be no notes on your door, not during a silent retreat, unless there was an urgent need to contact you ~ but I wasn't horrified. Not until I reached my husband five minutes later.

And so I was by myself, on a cell phone in a small motel-like room in the silence of a retreat center, when I learned that my son was gone. I can see myself standing there as if I had seen myself in a movie. I can see every detail of that room. I can remember exactly what the air felt like as I stepped back outside.

Little wonder that my hands shook yesterday as I typed my husband's name and phone numbers into the appropriate blanks on the Eastern Point registration form. But I typed them anyway.

I was going to write, just now, that the enterprise of spiritual direction has a lot to do with hope. But then I realized: of course it does ~ because hope is the ground of our spiritual lives.

Completing that form, down to typing in the emergency numbers ~ an act of hope. A kick, however small and ineffective, at that damn meteorite.


lisaram said...

Rear back and kick it a good one...
I'll stand behind you to give you a little leverage. (((Gannet)))

mompriest said...

the desert I am in is prickly and some of the cacti will actually jump out at you as you walk by (jumping cholla, I think) is a dangerous place, yet filled with hope...holding you in prayer as you kick back and sign that form...sigh.

sunflowerkat321 said...

You have to kick it, and hard. Otherwise, it's immobilizing.

For me, it's when one of us is going to get on the road. I've been robbed of the naive bliss of "knowing" everything will be ok.

You so vividly verbalize so much of what I have felt but could not explain. Your last few entries have left me without words. But, I'm here with you.

Kathryn said...

It was the fact that you were away on retreat when you got the news that haunted me for you...I can't still think the word "retreat" without seeing the page on your blog where you told us of your tragedy.
I admire you hugely for completing the form...Steel toe-caps must surely be available somewhere.
Continued love and prayers

Michelle said...

All those letters were a source of grace, hope and joy in my retreat - and many prayers were offered there for you.

Courage you have in abundance...may there be hope in the desert...

Jennifer said...

How courageous, GG--forgive this crass phrase, but it struck me that you are somehow giving the finger to simply will not let it rule, despite how many times a day it must come knocking on your door. You are a brave, brave woman!

Stratoz said...

I think of those cards I once pinned up while on retreat and hope that they did not bring annoyance or terror.

Mary Beth said...