I recently went on a four day silent retreat at the Holy Name Monastery in Saint Leo, FL. I thought I would share a few of my experiences with you while I was there. First, here is a shot of the monastery’s sign through one of their garden areas at sunset.
I started my retreat on Tuesday afternoon. Usually when I do a silent retreat, it takes at least the first 48 hours to even begin to quiet all the voices in my head. I decided to start right away and made the one hour drive up to Saint Leo with no radio on in the car. It was a smart move on my part. As soon as I got to the monastery, I was welcomed by Sister Mary David. She showed me to my room and told me about the prayer and meal schedule of the Sisters. She said that I was welcome to pray and eat with the Sisters as much or as little as I wanted to.
Having never spent a retreat with Sisters, I was a tad uncertain. Not only was I the only man in the house, I was the only retreatant for that week. Sister Mary David and the rest of the community made me feel right at home. I could tell immediately that this was a place where an encounter with God was awaiting me. I was not to be disappointed.
Unfortunately, I knew that this was going to be partially a working retreat. I am putting the finishing touches on my book, A Minute in the Church. I brought my laptop and a desire to get this project finished up. So really I spent all of Tuesday and Wednesday and even the better part of Thursday working on the book. But at least it was spiritual, and I was not distracted by TV, radio, Internet, cell phone or any other kind of media. I was able to really focus, which is rare for me.
It’s not as though I spent all my time working. Every now and again, I would walk down to the lake house and sit on the patio that overlooks Lake Jovita. I truly love nature, and to sit in the sun on a beautiful Florida day and listen to the birds singing and the bees buzzing was a little slice of heaven. Little did I know that God was preparing me for some very interesting encounters down by the lake. Below is my view from the patio of the lake house.
On Wednesday, I began to feel flu-like symptoms coming on. By Thursday, I was in full blown flu mode. Sick as a dog. Every muscle ached, every bone hurt, coughing, sneezing, chills…you know the drill. Yet even in that sickness, I continued to pray and feel God’s presence. And waited. The payoff was great. In my next post, I’ll tell you the story of the two reeds.