Tuesday, August 7, 2012
When you step off the small boat onto the windswept island,you remove your shoes.You will stay unshod for the three days that you are there and as I type this,I can't know what that will mean.I like the security of my shoes and was never one to frolic in the green grass all summer with bare feet.That is the first requirement but there are others as daunting.
No cameras,phones,PCs or radios.No sleep for the first 24 hours and alot of communal praying.Fasting is the norm and once a day you get a piece of bread and black tea.This is retreat on the island of Lough Derg,in Northern Ireland.The island itself is only two acres in the middle of a lake with the remnants of monk's beehive cells called"beds" and a basilica.A retreatant spends time in prayer at ,in and around these cells.For more than a thousand years pilgrims have been doing this including St.Patrick, so we are told.
The point is to remove yourself from the world and distractions and turn your mind toward God.How hard would that be if one was hungry,sleepy and foot sore?I once stayed up all night at a slumber party at Bernadette Myers house in Hempstead.I was 15 and the next day, I could hardly crawl through the front door and to bed.
But here's the thing:I don't know how I know about this strange,desolate island in the first place.It's booked as one of my Favorites but how did I come to know about their site?The other day a brochure came from Ignatius press and the first several books offered were very wallet friendly.There it was again:a book about Lough Derg for 3 dollars.It came today and is quite wonderful to read.
Have you ever just known that you were to go to a particular place?
"The wind holds no terror,the sun need not shine,
alone,with no shield
no make-up,no mask.
underfoot energy is loose,
just my bare wispy soul
in the cavern within,
seeking with old hands in the