PHOTO AND TYPOGRAPHY BY DENISE B.
The days seemed longer, but I didn’t mind it.
For once, I was able to actually taste the food that I was eating without being rushed, thinking about the next item on my agenda, or distracted by side conversations. I had the time to practice being thankful for the hands that prepared each meal throughout the day and for the nourishment (and sometimes pure comfort) it provided for my body and soul.
We were all eating in silence.
I could sense the talkers wanting to jump out of their seats and even I had my moments of finding it extremely difficult not to blabber, especially when presented with the best roasted corn grits I had ever had in my entire twenty-five years of existence. Not only did I want to jump out of my seat, but I wanted to stand on the table and demand that everyone put a ridiculous serving size on their plate —immediately—before I went back for thirds. The older man next to me gently nudged my arm, pointed at his plate and whispered, “these grits are off the charts”. And that’s that.
I was listening.
Four days, three nights, in complete silence at the Ignatius House with no computer, television, or cellphone. By the second night, I was getting into the groove of things. Bells ringing through the halls to wake us up at 7:15am, time at the chapel, meditations, walks with nature through the trails, writing by the fireplace, naps in the middle of the day—it was perfect. Things were slowly becoming much more present and I was given moments to step outside of Self and all of its overbearing expectations, and just be. Everything around me was and was always perfect, but it had been a long time since I stopped to acknowledge its freedom from all flaws and all judgements.
I was in good company.
Being at the silent retreat with the freedom to move about on schedule or completely off of it, led me to the pivotal point when I could accept all of the goodness and love that surrounded me. I understood that even when I was far off on a hill in the woods, without a soul knowing where I was or who I was, I was never truly alone. I understood that God’s company was good company.
I’ll carry it with me, big or small.
I am grateful for the small glimpses of heaven that I receive…when my eyes see things perfectly clear just for a few moments and time becomes timeless. I am grateful for the connections that I made and received with a simple smile or kind gesture that said, “I see you. You are beloved.” Most of all, I am grateful for being able to come back into the city with the noise and the busyness and continue to carry a piece of that gratitude with me. To be able to pause, listen to my inner voice, and welcome the mystery. Sitting with gratitude began on the hill, overlooking the river and the many trees embracing the wind, but it follows me and asks for my remembrance of the peace gifted to me on that day.
For that (and for the impeccable creation of roasted corn grits) I say Thank You.