Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
TITLE: St. Benedict’s
By Helga Doermer
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I had responded to the summons, and for forty eight hours absorbed the calm of a course of centering prayer. Now it was time to leave, disinclination held me fast. I gazed through my car window, observing the deserted parking lot. My colleagues had all left.
Beyond the parking lot, the early autumn afternoon continued to radiate an air of tranquility. Green lawn stretched toward a stand of trees still in summer foliage. The sun shone warm from a cloudless sky. The landscape existed empty of human form. The retreat center stood silent, with recent desertion.
My key waited in the ignition.
Though the retreat had come to an end, I was still cocooned in a serenity woven through the peace of the Benedictine Monastery. Reluctant to return to the everyday chaos of life in the city and home, my hands clutched the steering wheel, the way I wanted to cling to the weekend. Internally I willed myself to hold on to a stillness I had not known in years.
This must have been what Peter felt like when Jesus took him, James and John up a mountain by themselves. After witnessing Christ’s transfiguration, returning to the world must have seemed mundane. It is no wonder he wanted to stay and build dwelling places, to remain where he had experienced a revelation of God. Yet, the moment was only intended to catch a glimpse of glory and go back to share the vision with the rest of the community.
Taking a deep and steadying breath, I braced myself for the sound that would signal my turn of leave-taking. I rotated the key and the engine roared to life. A deep sigh of regret escaped my lips. For just one moment, I visualized what it would be like to be a nun and never have to leave this mountain top experience. Then I put the car into gear. The valley called for my return.
Note: Reference to Matthew 17:1-5
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