January 11, 2010

Top of the world

On our winter retreat at the monastery, my friends and I stayed in the Women’s Guesthouse at the top of a hill, the highest spot for miles. Lovely British Accent, the guest mistress, welcomed us with hugs as we came in, stomping the snow off our boots and carrying bags of clothes and books. Inside the guesthouse, an old stone fireplace made the living room cozy, and the covered porch that serves as a dining room was warm from afternoon sun that poured in the windows.

Upstairs, we each got our own room. My room had a low ceiling, a bed with a pink bedspread, an old wooden desk, and a window that overlooked the pine woods. I keep a special journal just for retreats, and the first thing I did after arriving was to sit down and read through the journal. It’s in two volumes now, since this was my 30th visit to the monastery. By reading through the journal, I could see patterns in my life: ways in which I’ve changed and ways in which (sadly) I haven’t.

While we still had some afternoon light, I pulled on warm winter clothes, walked downstairs through the kitchen where Lovely British Accent was making soup, and went out into the cold. Outside the cosy farmhouse, the world was windswept and desolate. The fields and the road glittered: the snow was sparkling with ice crystals the way it does in very cold weather. When the sun shone, all was white and blue, with some gold edging from the dried grasses. I looked across the field, a horizon that held nothing but sky, and felt like I was at the top of the world.

At the top of the world

9 comments:

heidi said...

Beautiful photo.

Magpie said...

That landscape is achingly beautiful.

undine said...

A beautiful picture.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I hope she didn't make vegetable soup!

It is a beautiful photo. I love how you capture shadows.

Melissa Sarno said...

I especially love photos of trees. How beautiful.
I like to go back and read old journals as well. It is interesting to see the changes in your life, but perhaps, more eye-opening to see what's stayed the same.

Leslie F. Miller said...

I, too, love the photo and that you reread your journals. It's really exciting to recognize these patterns, especially when something can be done with them. I envy your writer's life. You seem to be immersed in it. The monastic life never crossed my mind.

AmpersandPrime said...

breathtaking image. thank you for sharing the beauty of your retreat -- in words and imagery.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Lovely photo, lovely words. I have so enjoyed your blog since my first read...years ago.

L.L. Dunn said...

Easily the best of your pictures.