Silent Retreat Journal: The last day, Early Morning, New Camaldoli Hermitage, Big Sur:
The bells ring right on time and it’s not as dark as yesterday. I think it’s more about my ability to see in this silence than it is the actual darkness.
Today I get up. I feel tight and restless and like I need to run. I walk in awe of these men who do this day in and day out. I am feeling deep inside me I am done, cooked, enough. I need to blast Amos and drive way too fast down the coast. I need a latte and I want to be in the world again. I want to take a hot shower.
Silence at this hour takes on an entirely new meaning. The door to the microwave where I heat my tea is like an explosion in Iraq. It’s just incredible how much noise we make– and how much we miss because of it.
I’ve leaned numerous silence tricks since I’ve been here. Silence is intimately connected to your spirit, your speed, your grace and your connectedness. When you’re connected, when your centered, silence seems to be a natural outcome.
Perhaps people looking for alignment, looking to find their center need to start with silence. It’s the fastest route I’ve ever taken.
I walk down the never-ending road. My steps are nearly silent now; I’ve been a good student. I get to a bench and the morning arrives, last nights storm is long gone. Fog hugs the coast, but from up here I see it’s almost lost the battle, it’s going to be totally clear today. Watching clarity wipe away the fog, another lesson of this place.
I keep walking and my desire to be done increases. I think about all the lessons here, about what this time and silence has done for me.
I walk past a woman on the road and don’t say hello. I’ve learned the silent greeting now; it’s not quite a nod, but more of a energetic recognition of a fellow path follower. As she passes a horror comes over me as I remember my 3-hour nap, naked in the sun. Then I remember women can be on this side of the cloister.
I get to my favorite point and meditate. I’m reminded again how quickly I can be so deep here. It lasts less than 2 minutes and I’m back up walking. I am done here.
As I climb the road, a new mantra starts chanting in my head. I see my office and my home and my life and I see work undone. I see myself interacting with people and picking up projects and tackling the piles of undone stuff and for a moment I think, how can I go back to that?
These mantras have become so ingrained in me over this time that they are running in my background now nearly full time. It’s only as I take the last turn on the road, as I’m thinking about home, that I realize the mantra chant this morning is, “practice these principles in all your affairs”.