September 25, 2006

Walking the fenceline

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.

fallcolours

20 comments:

ppolarbear said...

what a gorgeous photo.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Beautiful pictures! It looks like a very peaceful place.

comebacknikki said...

Gorgeous!

Yankee, Transferred said...

OOOOOH I want to go there! NOW!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Thanks for giving us a glimpse.

Molly said...

Wish I were there, too.

zelda1 said...

I love golden rod, it's the perfect fall picture. The trees are beginning to change here too and I love it, love the fall colors. My favorite are the suagar maples and the persimmons, they get such a deep red and seem to look like flames from a distance. I'm glad you had the retreat.

Jennifer said...

The vegetation isn't right, but your whole post reminded me of walking the fenceline behind my grandfather's old sheep farm in New Zealand.

Beautiful. Thanks for the reminder.

Wol said...

How beautiful, Jo(e). Thank you for sharing with us.

Erin said...

Gorgeous photos!

turtlebella said...

I just love autumn...looks like it's well creeping in there.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

In the first pic, with the pines and the hillside in the distance -- looks exactly like Sauvie Island, just north of Portland OR. How about that.

Oh how I envy your retreat. How many times will I think that before I go on a retreat myself? : )

Heather said...

There's something about visiting your blog that makes me feel so peaceful, and this post is no exception.

purple_kangaroo said...

You're a very good photographer, you know?

Kyla said...

How beautiful!

Scrivener said...

Congratulations to you for taking that time for yourself. Someday, I'm going to figure out how to do that.

Saoirse said...

Those are beautiful pictures. I would very much like to spend some time in such a peaceful setting.

Kristen said...

That is amazingly beautiful. I'd think balance would seem completely attainable in that setting.

Silver Creek Mom said...

Absorbing and thinking. TO really think I think and soul search, would scare me. I'm afraid i won't like the answers, BUT I Should try it sometime. You sounds a very grounded person to me. I evny that.

Looks like a little peice of heaven on earth.

Hugs

Marie said...

Stunning photos. I've only ever been on retreat once in my life and I can't wait to go again. I love the permission to just be, not working on anything, but just being with God and my thoughts.