I don't remember this woman's name!!!! But she is one of my wisdom figures. I think she was the first person (not counting the Book of Job) who told me that "Why?" is a pointless question. It just drives one crazy and never gives an answer that satisfies. I took her advice on the retreat thing and did indeed go on retreat one day a month for years.
Then my dad got sick, and then he was murdered and Ben got married and my life sort of shifted. I haven't been on retreat in over 5 years. So when I realized that summer was almost over and I was so far beyond exhausted that I didn't even remember what exhausted felt like. I knew I needed a break. But there isn't a lot of money for a vacation. That's when I remembered this woman's advice and the fact that, at one time, not too long ago, I was a Spiritual Director. If anyone should know where to go on retreat, it is me!
So I started calling places I used to know and was startled to find that there are actually people in these places who remember me! I don't remember me, but they do. And I booked a 5 day stay at Sinsinawa Mounds, Dominican Conference Center.
There, with the help of a very wise and funny director, I began to let go. Here in the city with my stressful life, I don't realize how tense and wired I am. There in the peace and quiet, I suddenly felt like I had electric current running through me. I couldn't settle, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't think. I just vibrated. I was in shock.
There's no huge event in my life that caused this shock, it's the cumulative effect of everything. I don't have Post Traumatic Shock Disorder, I have Chronic Traumatic whatever.
Sure enough, after about 24 hours of vibrating, I suddenly crashed and I cried. And then I slept. I slept, I ate, I walked, I ate, I knit, I slept, I ate, I slept, I knit, I slept. Then I cried some more. Then I knit. Then I slept. All the journals and books I brought with me lay unopened. I did buy three more books and bring them home to read...
(I love these words. "Wired" as in I was vibrating with electricity and adrenaline. "Shock" as in hit by lightning that was attracted by the electricity running through my nerves. "Crashed" as in a bullet train hitting a mountain.)
The only thought I had was that humility is knowing who I am. I have limitations, I am not God. I have gifts which are given to me by God. I am nothing more (OR LESS) than simply me.
Humiliation, on the other hand, is something that happens to me when I forget who I am and try to be someone I'm not. God, for example. Or Martha Stewart.
Sr. Ellie, the wise and funny director, suggested that I feel empty because I have let my gifts lie dormant. Perhaps that is so. Perhaps I am so distracted by my attempts to keep Sam going and the house picked up that I neglect to use my gifts. What are they again?
5 days is not enough. I could have stayed 3 weeks. I'm back home and am still struggling with the desire to sleep and knit and sleep and eat and sleep. I have a few other things to do, but I'm trying to remember to focus on what is most important.
I am so grateful for the wise women who always seem to come into my life just when I need them most! I would say that my "pipes" are cleaner now, but still a bit clogged. I need to take seriously the advice of the wise women and put myself and my gifts a bit higher on my "to do list".