September 25, 2006
Walking the fenceline
When I visit the monastery in March, the farm is usually still buried in snow, with drifts of white spread across the fields, and a ripple of gold from the curving banks of dried grasses. And all summer, the sheep pastures are green, dotted with the fluffy white bodies of the sheep.
But September is early fall, and autumn colours are beginning to creep into the leaves of the maple trees. The wildflowers that grow in big untidy banks are yellow and purple. The sheep pastures are still green, and the grape arbor covered with green leaves, but that green serves only to make the bright yellow of the goldenrod that much more vivid.
I spent much of my time at the monastery wandering through sheep pastures, hiking along the fence lines, or just meandering about the apple orchard. I had no goal in mind, and no plan, just the idea that somehow I needed to absorb as much of this beauty as I could before winter gets here. And I was rewarded by all sorts of surprises – a lush display of wildflowers, a tree full of deep red apples, a persistent butterfly, and sheep that entertained me with all sort of antics.
I suppose my thoughts and prayers followed a similar meandering route. When I am on retreat, I leave behind all the day-to-day thinking that fills up my head, and I allow other thoughts and feelings to rise to the surface. As I walk along the sheep pasture fence, alone, I am often surprised at which path my own thoughts take. Just as leaves burst into bright red colour before they crumple and fall to the ground, long hidden emotions surface with a final bright flash before I can sort them and figure out where they belong.
The monastery is a safe place for that kind of sorting. After an afternoon of wandering through yellow and purple and green, I spent hours talking to Monking Friend and Nurse Friend, the three of us gathered in the comfy chairs in the old stone farmhouse, all of us relaxed after a quiet day of reflection, the three of us intent on putting our lives into balance.
Posted by jo(e)