"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: retreat

a hermitage . . .

DSC_0636Have you ever wanted to put your hands over your ears to shut out the cacophony of the world outside? To stop being nice or to help out when it might not really be needed anyhow? To live and let live when the latter part is complicated by a fear of other people’s vunerability to hardship or failure?

Is it like the first time you let go of the bicycle seat and let the two wheeler go on its own, rider and all? Or when you want to hold the hand of a toddler who is begging to walk but is off balance most of the time?

For me, it’s hard letting go, even at my age, truth be told. But when I find myself machinating or gnashing my teeth over someone else’s problems, the awakening needs to happen, and for me to hie myself off to the hermitage.

What is a hermitage anyhow? Is it a secluded place where hermits gather? Or is that an oxymoron because hermits by definition want/need to be all by themselves, rather than with other hermits? So, let’s say it’s a place of retreat by oneself. You can do that anywhere, it seems to me. . . even in your own house.

Retreat into one’s own place. That sounds like a plan to me.

these gorgeous ranunculus from Trader Joe's will keep me company in my retreat!

these gorgeous ranunculus from Trader Joe’s will keep me company in my retreat!

retreat . . .

I have learned an important observation about progressing through life from studying the I-Ching. And that is to be still when it’s time to be still. I think that we all recognize times when movement forward is not happening. Or that a next move is up to someone else or forces that are externally beyond our control. In America, the cultural norm is to think of progress as a straight line trajectory up and away, all the time. But in real life, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, the most appropriate stance we can take is to be still.

Retreat into oneself can be an act of strength, not weakness as often interpreted in the West. Preserving one’s integrity while holding still is one of the most powerful concepts that I have learned from reading about Zen, the Tao-te-Ching and other lessons from the I-Ching. Keeping one’s flame alight, although hidden, is a way to get through situations when everyone around you is not of your kind or who are Read the rest of this entry »