I've been a bad little blogger lately. A certain part of my life has been mucho crappy. It beat me down to the attitude of "who freakin' cares." I had no desire to write a blog entry, and actually, it's stuff I cannot share with the public anyway. Lord willing, this week I will be able to share a piece of good news. We shall see.

I desperately needed time in prayer without distractions. Within our cozy little apartment I can find numerous things to do other than pray. So this past Friday I went to a nearby Catholic retreat center (The Cenacle) for a day of solitude and prayer. I left behind my palm pilot and packed my Bible, Book of Common Prayer, journal, pen, lip balm, gum, a jacket, and my hairbrush. The whole day was a bit of Heaven. I arrived at 9:00 AM which on a day off is a miracle. The Cenacle is nestled in a small forest. A kind lady showed me around, and led me to my own little room - #1, the St. Agatha room. It was simple and perfect. The room contained a desk and chair, and a Crucifix hung above the desk. There was also a single bed (with a beautiful Mary and Child icon hanging above the pillow), one other chair, a small closet with a curtain-door, and a sink. Bathrooms and showers were just down the hall for overnight visits. I was there only for the day this time.

I prayed through Morning Prayer, met with a spiritual director, walked an outdoor path inhaling the scent of trees and flowers, sat in a tree swing, observed the quirky beauty of peacocks as they walked by (I thought of one of my favorite authors, Flannery O' Connor, who I believe owned peacocks), ate lunch in the same room as a very strange young lady, took a mug of coffee back to my room, prayed, journaled, and read part of a great booklet called "Way of the Heart" by Henri Nouwen. Then I laid down on the bed for a short nap. An hour and a half later I woke up! As I groggily read more Scripture and prayed, I realized the day was not only for prayer. I also needed to literally rest in my Lord. He does say, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) I have been laden with heavy crap lately, but I drove home that day with a warm cloak of peace.

People often ask me, "Don't you hate it when Johnny is on the road? It must be sooo hard for you." Yeah, of course I miss him. He is my favorite person and I always sleep better when he's home. However, I have always benefited from solitude. I think this makes me an introvert. I need solitude at times to really think, to really pray, to read, and to write. The booklet by Nouwen discusses three main topics: solitude, silence, and prayer which reminds me there are huge spiritual benefits to solitude. Thus, I plan to visit the Cenacle often when Johnny is traveling. I will stay overnight and satisfy my inner-nun. One of my other goals is to visit a monastery or convent to experience their life of simplicity, work, and praying through the hours of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. One of my heroes is the author Kathleen Norris. She regularly visits a Benedictine monastery one state away from her home though she is a Presbyterian. (Her husband is a writer, too. I guess he doesn't mind solitude at times, either.) Y'all must, you HAVE to read "The Cloister Walk" by Kathleen Norris. It is a fascinating book.

With this I bid you goodnight. A glass of red wine and Evening Prayer are calling.

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