Dear diary! So dull to wake up and find the room just as dark as when I fell asleep! I had such
a bad night, tossing and turning. The moon woke me up, I forgot to draw the curtains of course. Strangely enough, as I got up to close them, I caught a glimpse of the meadows, the mist was drifting and I think I saw an animal mowing. Wolf? Fox, rather, this is no wolfland.'
I was too tired to get alarmed, maybe I just imagined it. And, seriously, how alarming is it to see an animal in the countryside? There are sheep nearbye, they would make fearful noices if they even scented a wolf. Or a fox.
The day passed slowly, I didn't go out, the fog got thicker by the minute. I love the morning mass and the daily prayers. They gave us a few quotes from Mathew to meditate on. My closest neighbour is a woman in her sixties, we spoke a few words on arrival yesterday evening,before silence was at hand. I will speak to her again before we leave, she seemed nice.
Forgot the curtains again. Windows are old and large, the curtains are three meters up and rather heavy. There was no clear moon, but some draft. I went up to close the curtains,
felt uncomfortable with the chilly night and the rough boards on the floor. I sat up reading a bit too long, otherwise I might have slept well with the draft and all. I am reading that book about the people of Acts. Anyway, I saw that animal again. At least, I think I did, that wretched fog covered most of the area around the mansion.
I took a short walk, my neighbour returned when I got out, we just glanced and smiled.
Fog is slowly retreating, ha ha, it may very well do so in this place!
I fell asleep over my book and slept over afternoon prayer. Dinner was nice. Veal. I sat for ages in the chapel, my back is hurting, those prayerstools are tricky.
Slept like a log. The morning cleared rapidly and I heard the sheep from a distance. After mass I went out. Last time I was here there was no passage over the mainroad. You had to run for your life, never saw such traffic!! This year they had built a kind of bridge, I decided to try it, even if it meant walking a few miles extra. better than being overrun at least.
It was bitterly cold. But it is march and winter will be yielding soon, I noticed the changes today. Across the field where the horses run around in the summertime, I saw footsteps in the snow. Large ones, some kind of animal, the snow had melted a trifle. It made the tracks look alarmingly large. Wolf? Perhaps the beast I saw the other night. Beast. I read too much in the bible my husband says. Colours my thinking. Perhaps.
I walked to the lake today, never saw it before. The air was a bit misty, temperature is slowly rising. I heard something new. Strange sound, it was the ice breaking! It kind of moaned and whined and cracked.
The elderly woman came walking from a farm south of the lake. She looked a bit absent minded but smiled and looked down again. She looks a bit lonely. We all do, I suppose.
Dinner was good, fish. One participant have difficulties with his legs, he is using a segway. Mostly indoors, makes a wheezing sound when he arrives.
I spent some hours in the library in front of the fire. My room is a bit cold.
Woke up again tonight, around two. Looked out and there it was, the beast. It's a dog.
From one of the farms maybe, but up here by the mansion there is nothing but forest.
Could be a Beagle, he turned and disappeared into the shadows behind the chapel.
Well, chapel, it's actually an old henhouse! Nice. Robust. I like it. We spend a lot of time there, five sessions a day. We got a new quote today to meditate on, I'm working on it right now but had to take a break, almost fell asleep. It's tricky, you sit alone with your candle and the bible.
All afternoon I spent by the lake. That sound!! I think it is similar to salvation. The ice that
covers our souls makes it hard to see what lies beneath the surface. Only redemption can reveal the secrets hidden from the sunlight. We tend to keep our ice. It's safer. Todays quote was from John. The woman by the well. Jesus broke her ice.
What about mine?
Slept through the night, forgot the curtain but it's dark when we wake up anyway. No moon I guess. Segway-man didn't show up this morning, I hope he is alright. Morning mass is something I could get used to. We sit some seats apart, some sit on the floor, I did today. We have these Taizestools, low and crude. There are twelve of us this time, most of us are in the middleages, some work in church, most don't. Well, we get a chance to exchange a few words before silence. Before we leave I hope to speak to some, that woman for instance.
I have spent two hours reading, after lunch I'll take a walk.
Interesting turn on things! Up by the lake I saw the dog! He came strolling along the small road leading up to the upper meadows. He hesitated when he saw me and paused for a minute to take in my presence. I was just about to move towards him when the woman appeared. The dog turned to see who was approaching and to my great surprise he ran towards her, tail wagging. She bent down and spoke softly to him, striking his back tenderly.
Then she went on her way, giving me a quick glance. The dog looked at me, wagged tail but never got closer.
Supper was splitpeasoup, nice. I'm going to bed early, I have been sitting in the library with almost all of the others, only that woman was missing. This mansion belonged to a rather wealthy gentleman and his wife. They had no children so they donated the entire estate to the church who is now using it for meetings, retreats and education within the dioces. It's a strange place really, the main building is intact with paintings, statues and pillars.
Tomorrow I have my third meeting with my mentor, we don't really match. Last year was better.
One day left!! I hate this day, it's hard to keep focus. Your mind is wandering, it's tempting to check the phone. You begin to think about the journey home and how things will be.
After the service tomorrow I'll take the bus to town, if nobody want's to share a cab.
I took two walks today, before lunch I tried the forest, but its all wet and difficult now when the snow is slowly melting. So after noonprayer I went to the squeeking lake. I think I stood there for almost an hour, just listening to the sound of breaking ice. Looking closely, I could see the cracks running in a random pattern across the surface. Some cracks let the water appear, near the edges the ice was letting go and was actually moving. Fascinating.
On these walks you have the time to think a lot. And pray. That's the general idea of these events, thinking and praying and listening. Gods voice. Is it in the breaking ice?
The kind smiles from the others? The wheezing from Michaels segway? The pouring of wine into the goblet? Is Gods voice hiding in the good work done by the mentors of this retreat?
Right now, I'm on my way up to the main building for a late cup of tea. I'll bring a book.
Or maybe I will just sit by the fire. There are old, soft armchairs in oxblood leather.
I got up two hours early. Packed everything except toothbrush and went over to the chapel.
Since its sunday and our last day, mass will be celebrated after breakfast.
We will have a common gathering after mass, the mentors will close the retreat and let the voices free again. I'll write some more on the train!
Always so intense, the sound of voices and cars and everything, when you have spent six days in total silence. We broke up after lunch, a bit uneasy, reluctantly turning to the next person for a chat. Some of us have met before, even twice. We can catch up a bit .We shared a cab, four of us. That woman went along but she didn't talk much. She kept the distance. Since we were taking the same train , we took a walk in town, having an hour to spend.
She is retired from university. Secretary at law school. Widow. Quite recently she began attending services in her homeparish. The approach was massive on her, she said.
Oddly enough she used the word "ice". She felt like the ice around her had melted, somewhat painful but neccesary. I asked her about the dog. She said the dog had been there on the first night, she couldn't sleep and went out. She had her room in the main house while I was in the lodge. No mystery with the dog, she loved dogs and had five at home, on vacation now with her children and one sister. We didn't talk much, she got off the train long before I did.
She seemed quite pleased with her week. I think I am too.
But I still wonder about the ice. The breaking of ice. I wrote a poem even, I call it Images of breaking ice. Now I have one hour left before I am home, better use the silence while I have it.