Sunday, March 28, 2010
And the retreat was exactly what I needed; I feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
I was thrilled to learn that the retreat center is rarely used for organized retreats; it's actually a place where adults of any faith can go for peace and reflection. Meaning that (for a suggested donation of $35/night) I can go back, any time, on my own, to recharge. It's only thirty minutes south of St. Louis.
Vision of Peace Hermitages: "Vision of Peace Ministries exists to offer hospitality in a place where people of any faith, seeking solitude in their lives, can find a quiet peacefulness and an atmosphere conducive to private prayer and reflection."
A modest home sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Standing on the back deck, you don't realize that the gentle, grass-covered lumps just before the cliff's edge are the roofs of hermitages, each with a stunning view of the river. Inside each hobbit hole is a single bed, a single desk, a single rocking chair, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. The accommodations are simple, rustic, and adequate. Walking along the railroad tracks, down by the river, through the woods, or along the half-mile gravel path to the main road, there's no pressure to "meet and greet." There's no concern over what to say to a stranger or a friend. In a place of silence, a small smile of acknowledgment is all that's needed.
(People keep asking me if the silence drove me crazy. I loved it! But I figure I must talk waaaaay too much if everyone I know thinks solitude must bug me. Bugs bug me. I dig solitude.)
Inside the main house lives a year-round caretaker. (He's a former monk, very friendly.) There's also a library and chapel open to guests staying in one of the nine single-occupancy hermitages.
My cabin, Holy Wisdom, was the furthest from the river. But my view was still lovely and as I was a little bit off by myself, the accommodations were perfect for me.
I'm afraid I abused the retreat a little. I loved it, participated in all the activities, and followed all the rules. But in my free time I didn't do as much meditating and praying as I was supposed to. Instead, I did a lot of the writerly work I rarely find time to do at home: rereading, editing, and rewriting. And that was just as glorious as the rest of the weekend, though I suspect that everything I wrote before 2009 might suck.
Have you ever been to a place like this? Do you have one near where you live?