The first day of my sabbatical leave is finally here! It is rather surreal. I have longed for this and planned for this for what seems like a very long time. What appeared at first to be a mountain of things that had to happen/get done, is now just a memory. Everything is finished, I hope; all "i's" dotted, all "t's" crossed. And those that aren't dotted or crossed will just have to survive three months without me! Que sera sera.
I didn't hurry this morning getting ready for my trip to Valyermo and the Benedictine monastery, so of course I did not get here when I had hoped to. Instead, since I knew I would be missing not only the noon Mass, but also the lunch, I stopped along the way at a Mexican restaurant I had noticed several times. It was good. But I'm glad to be here at St. Andrew's now. I plan to go easy on myself, especially in the early going and not push too hard. Consequently, I am feeling rather lethargic.
My goal during this four-day retreat is to quiet my soul and listen. This afternoon when I first got here I went and sat by the pond and read some Scripture and then just listened to the sounds. The wind was blowing through the trees, the birds were singing, there was an airplane that flew over… it was blissful! Then I went and took a nap. I want to enter into the rhythm of this monastery, attending to the daily offices (services), the meals and perhaps connect with a brother or priest about being my spiritual director. I used to have one here, but moved on from that practice some years ago. I'm thinking that it might be time to return. But I will listen and discern. I also want to walk, and read devotionally. I'll get into the study books later.
One of the things that extended my preparation time this morning was shaving off my hair. Now, I don't have much hair to begin with, but I decided that I wanted to shave it all off (mustache, goatee, and scalp—I left my eye brows!) as a symbol of my letting go and starting over. I don't know if I'll grow it back right away or if I will continue to keep it shaved, but I'm open to either. Cyndy isn't crazy about me doing it, and Nathan was freaked out when he saw me this morning. I don't think I'll post any pictures; at least not yet. In the process I irritated the skin on my head, so right now I have a damp wash cloth on my head to sooth the irritation!
My intention is to blog daily, but I'm not going to be a blogger-nazi, so if I miss a day here or there, no worries! There may be days when I post more than once, it all depends on what God is doing in me and if I am paying attention. This blog is not for the sake of teaching others—that is one of the things from which I need to rest! Rather, it is a form of self-discipline so that I will take the time to reflect on what God is doing in me. I'll post a note on Twitter (and thus Facebook and LinkedIn) when I post a new blog (and people can also subscribe to the blog to get alerts when new ones are posted). I invite comments, but be nice!