Monday, February 22, 2010

My Inner Hermit

I was reading the latest post at the Abbey of the Arts, and was struck right off by the phrase "my inner monk." The thought resonated with me as a question: Do I have an inner monk? And I think the answer is: I'm not sure about a monk, but I definitely have an inner hermit.

The photo above was my hermitage when I went on retreat last year at Nada. As you may remember, I was there, by myself, for a week. I'm going back again the week after Easter, and will get to be in this same hermitage again. It's basically one room, and a bathroom. There's a little desk, a little kitchen (well stocked by the good folks at Nada), a bunk, and an easy chair facing that glorious set of windows facing south. There's also a wood stove which I enjoyed tending, although I never quite figured out how keep the temp lower than about 80 at night!

I think I have an inner hermit because sometimes the desire to get away to this hermitage is almost overwhelming. It is not quite the sense of wanting to run away from my problems and life's difficulties. Rather I sense it more as retreating away just to be with God, by myself, and sort things out for a while with no distractions.

Just sit there in that chair, looking south at the broad Sangre de Cristo landscape, soaking up the sun, music helping me to give voice and emotion to stuff that's packed inside. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine myself there. A brief retreat, accessing the presence of the Divine so palpable in sunlight and solitude.

Thinking of that longing for retreat as "my inner hermit" is helpful because whereas before it simply felt like unrequited longing -- Ah! I want to get away! But I can't! -- now I can think about it as a part of myself that's giving me some information about my state of being and what needs paying attention to.

For instance, I think it's no accident that this "longing" is currently quite constant and feels almost physical -- while at the same time there is some very difficult stuff going in my life/our lives, not just my whole healing work but other mostly unbloggable stuff as well. In the middle of all this, my inner hermit is manifesting in the urge to just. stay. home. and. do. nothing.
It doesn't help (or maybe it does) that there's the Olympics with which to distract myself...

Recognizing my inner hermit helps me to think about way I might tend to her that could be more intentional and helpful rather than simply vegging out on the couch discovering the oddity that is olympic curling.

I know this: My inner hermit needs music. And sunlight (Denver's weather lately is not helping in this respect). And solitude. Learning to create these spaces in what is right now a very busy and challenging life might be a good Lenten practice for me...

Considering my toes in front of those fabulous south windows...