Silent Saturday: refreshment, renewal, reminder

It was a cool and foggy morning and I arrived 
30 minutes early. 
That almost never happens. 
Setting out lovely snacks and interesting reading material was a retired clinical psychologist who also happens to be a nun.  She was gracious and welcoming as I found my way into a high-ceilinged room – a room that used to be 
the ballroom of a mansion, 
then a chapel for the novitiate 
of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart, 
and now is used for all kinds of retreat gatherings.
This lovely, comforting, renewing and reviving space is located less than 3 miles from my home.
So close.
Yet I’ve been so far.
I’d been here to work,
to lead retreats, but this…
…this was my first visit to their monthly 
Silent Saturday offerings, 
where centering prayer is practiced in community.
This is what I’ve hungered for,
hungered for a long time now.
Time to be quiet, 
time to center down,
to hunker down,
to re-visit myself 
and to re-connect with God.
There were about 25 of us in the circle, 
mostly middle-aged (and beyond) women 
with a smattering of men.
This is what happened:
3 different 30-minute spaces for silent, centering prayer;
3 times of silent, 
very slow and deliberate walking around 
just outside our gathering space;
and 45 minutes for individual reflection,
anywhere on the grounds.
It was perfect.
Restful, beautiful, tender.
Loveliness all around, no matter where your eye landed.
Color, over and over, brightening a gray day.

I sat under a sheltering oak, far back in the corner of 
a small courtyard.
Architectural details added to the 
beauty of the day and to the depth of the experience.
Beauty somehow speaks to the deepest parts of me –
whether that beauty is divinely created 
or humanly crafted.

My soul needed this day.
And so did my body.
I will be back next month.

Later that day, I continued this mini-retreat 
by driving down to the ocean, 
always a source of life and hope and strength for me.
I took a long walk, soaking in the sights 
and the sounds 
and the smells 
of this wintry afternoon 
in the middle of spring.

And along the way, I was reminded 
of some of the interesting anomalies 
of living in this celebrity-laden, 
resort-funded community.
Where else but here would you find 
tour groups on Segueways??
A little levity is always a good thing.
Somehow seeing those hard-hatted travelers
segueing their way around my favorite parking spot – 
well, it offered a bright smiling moment,
a connection to all the strange wonders of
life on the central coast of California.

Succulents shaped like roses,
sandstone cliffs bracketed by potted geraniums,
the grace and fortitude of an old Monterey cypress,
the regal splendor of a well-trimmed King palm,
a trio of friends walking down the beach.
All of it,
all of it spoke to me of grace, 
of wonder, 
of Presence.
God is good.  All the time.
Last Saturday was a day to revel in that truth,
to celebrate it,
to mark it into my heart.

And God met me there – 
in every silent moment,
in every step walked,
in every color relished,
in every blessed breath.
What is there to say but,
“Thank you!”

Because I’ve had blogger problems for much of this week, I’ve just got this one post – so I’m spreading it around a bit by linking with L.L. Barkat at Seedling in Stone On In Around button
and with Suzannah at So Much Shouting So Much Laughter;

so much shouting, so much laughter

and with Bonnie over at the Faith Barista, too:


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  1. Oh what beautiful images and words! I do envy you your retreat!

  2. p.s. – I’m following you on google and by email subscription now. So glad I found your site 🙂

  3. Thanks, Lisa – always glad someone decides to follow along. And I bet you envy that retreat day with 5 kids to homeschool! Hope you can carve one out soon – it is so worth it.

  4. I’m here from Bonnie’s today. And I heart Santa Barbara. The meditations sound perfect – and your pictures make me feel like I was there. – awesome. The architecture is awesome – and St. Francis with his ever present animal friends made me smile. And then the sleepy peacegul gray morning beach. Thank you for this today – I hearted it lots – and God Bless and keep you and all of yours.

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Craig. It was indeed a long, lovely, leisurely day and I am grateful for it. Of course, almost immediately it gave way to a rather intense week, some of that intensity arising out of the very things God showed me during this quiet day. Funny how the Holy Spirit is like that!

  6. how wonderful! i got to enjoy a quiet weekend, too, with my MOPS group. such a gift.

    i had a conversation with a woman today about centering prayer, a practice i feel a stirring to return to. how fantastic that you can do it in community! when my boy-babe weans, i hope to get away overnight for a silent retreat.

    so glad you shared your story and photos! trying not to envy your proximity to the ocean… 🙂

  7. So many wonderful “Be still and know that I am God” experiences! I’ve never attended a retreat center such at this one, but I’ve been able to spend quiet moments of reflection in other beautiful places. Walking or sitting by the ocean is one of my favourites.

  8. I love this retreat place. You reminded me of how very lucky I am to live here. Loved the photos and the deep breath of renewal in your writing.

  9. Thanks, friends, for stopping by. And Suzannah, thanks for the invitation each week – I’ll try to take you up on it more faithfully. Carol, you are so faithful to stop by and leave kind words. Thank you! Sarah, my sweet friend whom I seldom see – LOVE your new writing space and your beautiful entry this week. Someday I will see that 3rd lovely little girl. Thank you for stopping by, too – it’s interesting how social media can enliven connections between people. I wait in wonder to see how God will use all this techno stuff to continue to redeem this world of ours.

  10. I am popping over from Gg – Notes on the Journey to say thanks from the bottom of my heart for your recent support during my dad’s open heart surgery. He is doing so well.

    Over 60 comments with prayers and well wishes, including yours. Such sweetness. It helped me not feel quite so alone, having recently moved to Chicago.


  11. Sandra Heska King says

    I would so love to do something like this. But your words and your photos–almost as good as being there. Beautiful!

  12. Glenda and Sandra – thanks so much for stopping by! Glenda, I’m glad that this virtual community out in cyberspace helped you to feel comforted during a scary time. My dear dad (gone 6 years now) had heart surgery nearly 20 years before he died and I remember how scary that day/week was. Hope he’s doing well!

    And Sandra – I’m always honored to see your name in the comment collection. Your lovely work inspires me to carry my camera everywhere. I used to do so much more of that and I’m happy to get back to it. There are retreat centers like this one all over this country – it is amazing to me how welcoming they are. Maybe one day, you can try it out. I have yet to do an overnight one (unless it was a working retreat -which is NOT the same thing), but I’m hopeful that someday I’ll manage it.