Monthly Archives: September 2014

Ah, Silence…

First the fog, then the beautiful sunshine sparkles on the lake.  I was at Luther Park, a rustic church camp near Danbury, Wisconsin, for yet another silent retreat.  (I’ve enjoyed a few over past years.)  I had a wonderful view of the outdoors in my little camp type room as I sat at the desk positioned in front of the window.  Also, in the room were two sets of bunk beds and an additional single bed.  I didn’t have to share the room last weekend, but during camp times this tiny space can sleep 5 people!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t know how many acres Luther Park encompasses, but there are several different trails to walk through the woods and two different lakes that provide wonderful scenery to enjoy.  Benches scattered throughout the property provide welcoming places to sit and ponder or pray.  The weather this past weekend was cool, but sunny – very fall like and lovely.

Some may find the silence of this type of retreat deafening; introvert that I am, I love it.  The peaceful calm of nature renews my spirit.  It didn’t hurt that I really had no responsibilities while I was there other than respecting nature, the camp buildings, the staff and the people who were enjoying this respite with me.  Our meals were all prepared for us.  Though maybe not as healthy as my food choices at home, I thoroughly enjoyed eating some of the foods I grew up eating – jello, pudding, fruit cocktail and whipped cream salad, iceberg lettuce, huge white dinner rolls.  (Obviously, that wasn’t all we ate, but those are the choices I found amusing.) I would guess this is standard fare for the young campers that spend part of their summer there.  I just felt grateful for the kitchen staff that worked hard to keep us sated.  I didn’t have to plan or prepare the meals and that was a gift!

There is a wonderful, large outdoor labyrinth on the grounds of Luther Park – actually, newly added this year.  I’ve never really “gotten in” to labyrinths, but the setting in the woods for this one is so beautiful, that I felt compelled to give it a try and walk it.  The first evening our group actually walked it (in silence, of course) in the dark with the only light coming from the 24 votive candles we had scattered about the circuits earlier in the day and lit just before walking, along with a few flashlights.  I admit it still took me awhile to feel anything special about the walk, especially since it was a group walk.  As I settled down, however, I did find some inspiration and perhaps, had a new aha moment.  If you are familiar with labyrinths you know that unlike a maze where you often can get lost and feel frustrated that you can’t find your way – a puzzle, if you will – you cannot lose your way in a labyrinth.  The path eventually brings you to the center, and when followed, back out again.  It occurred to me, quite simply, that my higher power (Spirit or God for me) will always show me the way; I will never be lost in life, if I follow the path.  I do, however, have to sometimes be patient (not one of my strong suits).  I concluded the patience bit as I noticed some of the labyrinth paths are longer and thus I needed more time to walk them – signifying to me those times in life when my options are not as obvious;  the shorter paths signifying those times in my life when answers come quickly – my way is immediately evident.  Either way, ultimately, if I trust in Spirit, my path is made clear and I find my way.

I walked the labyrinth again the next day, alone this time.  I went into the path with the thought, “Okay, Spirit, what do you want to say to me today.”  Pretty much came to the same realization as the night before – very reassuring.

I spent the rest of the weekend walking the trails, gazing at nature, journaling, coloring mandelas, reading scripture from the Bible, and pondering life.  I slept in a sleeping bag on one of the bunks in my room and enjoyed two very restful nights.

When I spend time not speaking to anyone, and not connected to technology, TV or radio, as I did this past weekend, my senses are heightened.  I hear more of nature’s sounds – the sound of the wind moving the tree branches, the chirping of the birds, twigs snapping and leaves rustling as I walk through the woods.  My food tastes better as I take the time to enjoy each texture and aroma.  Slowing down like this allows me to really see things more clearly – not only mentally, but physically.  I am more apt to notice the way the breeze makes the leaves on the trees wiggle, or the way the sunshine creates sparkles on the water as if there are thousands of diamonds shimmering in the light.

Ah, silence – very calming!

Lakeview 2

Lake view 1

Though I knew I would write a blog post about my retreat weekend, I wasn’t bright enough to think to take any pictures of the lovely setting; so, these pictures off the internet, though not of where I was, are a good representation of the scenery I experienced.

I’d love to hear how you renew your Spirit, leave me your comments below.

It’s off to the movies…

I love watching movies.  Now that I am only working (outside the home, as they say) part-time and have more free time, I have even ventured into the theater by myself to see a matinee, and find I am very comfortable being alone that way.  Regretfully, I’m not very excited about much of what is offered in theaters these days.  I’ve tried online Netflix andOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA wasn’t too impressed with their movie options; plus, I don’t like paying the monthly fee since I already pay a Direct TV bill each month.  Going to the Red Box to find a movie is too inconvenient on the spur of the moment.  So, most often, I turn to the TV for my movie watching.

For the most part, I don’t have regular TV programs that I watch.  OK, I do tune in to Downton Abbey, Dancing with the Stars if I recognize the celebrities that are competing, and I can’t even tell you how many times I have seen each Friends episode on late night TV (is 10:00 PM late?).  But, I confess I do turn on Direct TV to find a movie to watch when I want to do something mindless.  Most of the time, I can discover something that will entertain me – never mind it is usually a movie I have already seen – more than once – sometimes to the point of being able to recite some of the dialogue right along with the film.  I have a friend (and maybe some of you agree) who thinks it is a ridiculous waste of time to watch a movie more than once.  I happen to disagree.  Apparently, the cable/satellite TV personnel also think we can be entertained over and over by the same movie – every few months they seem to air repeat movies.

My personal preferences for movies are romantic comedies – think Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Diane Lane movies.  I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot when I do happen to find something I haven’t already seen.  But, as I said, I’m not adverse to re-watching something.  I enjoy watching movies for the diversion they provide from worries, responsibilities or the drudgery of housework.  Sometimes I turn something on to entertain me while I make a meal, dust or clean bathrooms.  (I move quickly during the commercials!)

While watching movies, I can fantasize about different life styles.  Never mind most of movie content probably isn’t realistic, but it provides a good escape.  Who isn’t in love with the beach house in the Diane Keaton movie, Something’s Gotta Give, or Ms Keaton’s wardrobe in that movie?  Some movies offer spectacular scenery of parts of the country or world I may never see or that I can’t visit very often.  A couple of evenings ago, I stumbled on and watched The Horse Whisperer – Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas, and a young Scarlett Johansson.  The Montana scenery was breathtaking.  It’s been said that laughter is really good for us – some movies can provide me with a good belly laugh.  Some movies make me cry, and who doesn’t need a good cry once in awhile?!

Every now and then, dialogue from some movie can come in handy in every day life – “Anyone, anyone?” from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; “Dong, Grandpa is talking to you!” from 16 Candles; “Thirsty, kids?” uttered by Chevy Chase in Vacation.  My husband recited that last line to me just last night when I mentioned I was thirsty.

I am rambling here.  I could go on and on naming the many movies I love, my favorite actors, favorite scenes or favorite lines I remember.  Guess I just want to encourage and endorse watching those movies you enjoy more than once.  There’s nothing wrong with a little mindless entertainment now and then!

Two of my favorites

Under the Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun
The Holiday
The Holiday

Leave me a comment here if you have a favorite movie you watch over and over; or, if you have a great movie line you like to recite.  I’d love to hear from you.