Life was simple during my sabbatical, especially the time I spent alone at our retreat in the mountains. I ate when I was hungry and rested when I was tired. Without the distraction of TV or Internet, the pace automatically slowed. I enjoyed uncomplicated choices interspersed across the hours. Which path would I walk? What music did I want in the background? What was my “big” activity for the day? It was an easy rhythm, without pressure, but also minus any boredom. The days felt full. I felt full.
I had a loose To Do list as my nature propelled it. I read a lot and exercised my mind and spirit with deep “interior” work. I laughed and cried and felt joy and sorrow, anger and loneliness, enlightenment, gratitude and deep spiritual connection. I wrote and rested and wrestled and read and wrote some more. Solitude is good for the soul.
As I walked on the last morning I thought about the serenity of those placid days. I learned to accept each day without obsessively planning it. I wonder if it’s possible to take this practice back into my regular world now that the time has come. The To Do lists will be more complicated and pressing, of course, and even that reality invites acceptance.
But what if I stopped fretting about the unexpected turns of the day? If I viewed the interruptions as opportunities? Or the aggravations (which regularly spawn sizeable overreaction) as openings for patience?
These adjustments are spiritual, not circumstantial. The clear truth is that my experience of my circumstances is directly dependent on my spiritual state. An internal connection to God is the bedrock for the shifting sands of life’s demands. The Person must be more compelling than the place.
And so I’m back, asking for grace sufficient to keep this internal atmosphere of peace. Grace to accept each day and whatever it may bring.
Marnie C. Ferree