So, I made it back from my retreat on Sunday evening...but I probably shouldn't say "back." You see, I went on retreat...but never left.
As I mentioned a week ago, I was scheduled to make my retreat with the Sisters of Bethlehem at their monastery in the Catskills, but their power was still out from Superstorm Sandi. When some parishioners heard of my plight, they very generously offered me their cabin along the Salmon River about seven miles from here--either to tide me over until the sisters could take guests again, or for the entire week. So I accepted their offer, not knowing how things would go. But by the time the monastery called on Tuesday to say that the electricity had come back on, I was already hooked and decided to stay put.
I managed to do everything much as I would have: spend my days in silence (with only the music of the river in the background), read a lot, take long walks each day (and a few naps, too). St. Helen's (our parish church in Chasm Falls) became my "private chapel" for the week, where I could offer Mass and adore the Blessed Sacrament. It really was quite delightful. I was a happy hermit, indeed!
Thus I ended up making my retreat more or less hidden in plain sight (which was both a good lesson and an unexpected treat)...meanwhile discovering some beautiful spots here in the parish that fit much same description...
"There are many who live in the mountains and behave as if they were in the town, and they are wasting their time. It is possible to be a solitary in one’s mind while living in a crowd, and it is possible for one who is a solitary to live in the crowd of one's own thoughts."
"Holy solitude is, after all, not the absence of the world, but the presence of God."