14 July 2009

Back from Retreat (Bishop's Ranch, Healdsburg, CA)

Thanks for your patience with my lack of posts. I was away on retreat and returned Sunday late afternoon. During retreat I was able to preach once on the solemnity of St Benedict and I will post that as soon as I am able. The readings for this week are also terrific so perhaps I can get some reflections up on them as well. Finally, I came home with two new paintings by a Camaldolese Monk (Brother Emmaus O'Herlihy): 1) St Romuald in ecstasy (after receiving the gift of tears), and 2) a painting called "Solitude". These are two paintings in a set of four exploring the Camaldolese charism or "triple-good," so I will post pictures of them and write a bit about those too. In the meantime the above picture was taken of most of the group (five were missing at this point) after the final Mass on Sunday.

Retreat itself was quite fine (though, of course, not what I expected, or at least planned for, in terms of personal work, etc!). It was, as last year's, a Benedictine Experience retreat and each day was modelled on a monastic horarium with sung Office three times a day, Mass at midday, silence throughout, choir practice and conferences in the mornings, lectio and work periods in the afternoon, and a meditation in the evening before Compline. On Thursday the schedule shifted some to accommodate a desert day, and people went off to do whatever they needed and wanted to do after the morning session. Each evening after Vespers and prior to dinner we had a half hour recreation where folks got to meet and talk, share wine and cheese, etc.

We humans were certainly not alone at Bishop's Ranch. Two of the nights we heard coyotes making kills not far from our rooms, and one of those Sister Donald (OSB Cam) heard a mountain lion make a kill about 2.5 hours earlier than the coyote sounds I heard that same night (Sr Donald thought it occured about 300 yds from our rooms). Other wildlife was around as well: rabbits, quail, and unfortunately, rattlesnakes --- though no one but Ranch staff ran into these!! (A baby rattlesnake was found where some workers were clearing brush and dead wood; it was eventually relocated to another ranch some miles away where it could live in peace --- and let us do the same!)

(Sister Donald and myself one morning in front of Webb Lodge where we had rooms.)

The moon was full and wonderful. The first night it woke me at 3:30am shining full in my room, and at first, confused on waking in a new place, all I could think was, "It CAN'T be dawn yet!" I watched it set into the trees of a nearby mountain two hours later, still brilliant, and still framed by my bedroom window. The moon remained almost as full the whole week (it was waning, and one night there was also an eclipse which was not really visible), so while the nights were not as dark as last year, they had a loveliness which was every bit as great.

So, more about all this and other things in the next posts (or perhaps as additions to this one!