It was July in the Catskill mountains; we were high above the valley and the town of Roxbury,walking slowly along a rock path to a grave.John Burroughs, the naturalist, is buried by a rock that he often mused on when a young boy.This land was his family's farm and he knew every rock,stream and bird.And enveloped and possessed by beauty ,wrote of them.
Before reaching the grave ,we passed a small field of wildflowers.The only sound was from heavy laden bees moving from stem to stem.The field gave off a sultry heat and the bees and butterflies took turns tasting the wildflowers.This is how Burroughs was able to enchant a blank white page with his words.In this mind clearing,word appearing ,silence.
In April,I will be driving 25 miles to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit to spend 3 days on a solitary retreat.The silence will envelope me and I feel its welcome as I type.My room will be on the second floor overlooking a small garden.Pink dogwoods will be visible from the desk that is under the window.True darkness will descend after the last prayers of the day.The rhythm of prayer and rest
existing in monasteries like this one for over a thousand years,will be my cadence for a few blessed days.
I have so many memories of graced times at this monastery.The Monday of the the week after Easter,years ago, I took my then ten year old son and a friend for a visit.We were down by the lake near the church , which is home to geese and descendants of Flannery O'Connor's peacocks.As we whiled away some time,I happened to notice a young priest walking towards us.His face glowed. We spoke and he told his story.He was from Massachusetts, on retreat in Georgia for a few days.We got to know each other a bit and then he shared his glow and some tears.It seems that at Holy Thursday Mass ,which he had just recently celebrated,an elderly man came up to communion.The priest noticed tears in the eyes of the man and after Mass learned why.His sight,gone for years,had just been restored.Holy Thursday,indeed.