During one of our cottage summers we had two dogs with us, Timmy, a five year old Golden Retriever and Major, an eight month old Labrador Retriever. The dogs had the best summer ever! Running in the forest, digging at the beach, swimming endlessly, catching frogs, and playing with the children – it simply doesn’t get any better for a retriever! The first week home, they lay in the middle of the kitchen and looked at me with mopey, sad eyes. What – back here again? Returning.
Last week I returned to Toronto from my month on Cortes. I felt a bit like Timmy and Major. Really? Back again to concrete and asphalt, to close tiny lots, to the relentless strum of the city, to the human energy of city density? Really? There were a few people I thought I’d be in touch with on my return and I simply wasn’t able to do it. I needed some time being a retriever ‘lying on my kitchen floor with mopey eyes’.
It is so easy for me to move from the roar of Toronto to Cortes. It’s virtually instantaneous. I feel it happening on ferry #2 as we cross from Quadra to Cortes and the slowing down continues with each day I’m there. It’s much tougher for me to return to bustle. Something in me resists re-entering the relentless roar.
Whenever we have a wonderful experience, one we want to treasure, how do we re-enter our ‘normal’ life while retaining the goodness we’ve experienced? It could be returning from a holiday, a retreat, a concert, an engaging conversation or an engrossing book – any number of soul touching experiences. How do we do it well?
Two Returning Principles: First, for me I recognize I’m doing it slowly, respecting my interior life while also respecting the world I’m in. I value living in the present moment so that entails not dwelling on the past, or worrying of the future, but being open to now. I’m open to the concrete and roar with a soul that has been formed by spaciousness and beauty for the past month. Second, I continue to live with the awareness that my life is more than my own. I’m responsible for it AND I have said ‘yes’ to Jesus directing my life. Once again John 21.6 and the fishing command has spoken into my life. I don’t want to live from my own driven needs (got to go fishing), but under the direction of God’s Spirit. So, I cope with returning slowly and gently, continuing to honor some core values from it.
How are your returning times? Bumpy? Irritable? Sacrificial? In what way do you lose the goodness you experienced? What helps you retain the goodness?
I leave on Sunday for the last of my silent retreat weeks. I’ve chosen to do something a bit different on this one. Although still silent, it will be in a community with a particular focus. I hope to deepen the flow of God’s loving and compassionate presence through me. Again, you remain in my prayers and I appreciate yours as I travel and immerse myself in a week of prayer. Both weeks in March and April were strong, deep and a lot of work. I wonder what this one will bring.
Love and prayers on the journey
Mystic in Motion