March 13, 2006

Spring cleaning at the monastery

When Monking Friend and I arrived at the monastery on Thursday, the sheep pastures were still covered with snow, with ripples of dried grasses showing gold above the white. But warm winds that night melted much of the snow, and a steady rain the next day released the smell of spring mud. We woke to twittering of spring birds.

A rainy day at the monastery is a good day for spring cleaning. Whether I am hiking across the sheep pastures in a light rain or sitting inside by the fire in the guest cottage, I turn inwards, thinking over the past year, uncovering warm memories, old resentments, and all kinds of things I thought I had forgotten. I put away disappointments and catalog growth. Like any kind of cleaning project, a retreat brings some discoveries, like an old box of childhood memories I thought I had packed away long ago.

Spring cleaning makes creates new spaces inside me, spaces for new experiences, new friendships, new growth. Sometimes it is time to let go of clutter, those old CDs with their negative messages. When I come across a hurtful memory, I analyze it, take it apart, and then sweep the pieces into the fire. I linger over the warm, wonderful memories – I pack them carefully and keep them near the surface for times when I need them to sustain me.

During this retreat, I wrote pages and pages in my journal, pages that I will never show anyone. Writing just for me. Somehow it is always healing to write my feelings out, even if no one will ever read them. The peace of the monastery quiets the chaos of my mind. I walk into the chapel, breathing in the musty smell of incense and descend down the old stone stairs to my favorite spot. Alone down in the crypt, I sit cross-legged on the stone floor in front of the candles and let feelings rise to the surface.



halloweenlover said...

Beautiful, Jo(e). What a wonderful experience.

Friday Mom said...

Beautiful. Touched a longing in me to make this a regular habit again. Circumstances won't allow it right now, but soon.

KathyR said...

Oh, Jo(e). I think you make us all wish we were you. Or like you. Or best friends with you.

kabbage said...

Welcome back, Jo(e). I look forward to reading more of your quiet, thoughtful writing.

zelda1 said...

I go to the white river to spring clean. It is the sound of the river, the early morning sound, that is. I can sit on the dock behind my sister's cabin, not another soul for miles and watch the eagles and listen to the water and never once have to open my mouth. It's one of my most favorite places to go. Fresh trout every single day. Can't beat it with a stick. When my son and daughter were pre-teens, before the accident, I took them there for a week of just mom and the kids. One morning my son, coming back from the river with a string of trout, was confronted by a bear, she was small, but still potentially dangerous. Her cub was a few feet away, and my cub's mom, me, was a few feet away too. As soon as I saw her looking threatening at my son, I grabbed the nearest object, a rake, and began charging toward the bear. She turned and stood up and came toward me and then for a second we were simpatico, we understood one another and she got back on her fours and ran to her cub and they ran away. My son tells his friends that story all the time, especially when he was younger and his friends would talk about how strong their fathers were, he would say, "oh yeah! My mom wrestled a grizzly." How funny.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Gorgeous photo! I need a little 'internal spring cleaning'. Wonder if I can do that with just a walk around the neigborhood, as we are sorely lacking in monasteries.

Anonymous said...

Oh, thank God you posted. I was having serious withdrawl symptoms. I feared you would not post the whole time you were at the monestary. And I feared I would lose it if you did that.

Less afraid now. Thanks.