Come to my Garden III

 Meditation Retreat at Holy Cross

Wake, O northwind, and come, thou south wind:
blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow.

Surge, aquilo, Antiphon of the Psalter
Second Vespers, Celebrations of our Mother Earth

The very first week I did not have parish responsibilities, I suddenly realized I could take a weekend meditation retreat at Holy Cross Monastery. Brother Bede! I said. Can I…? Do you suppose …? Is there room for me on the meditation retreat this weekend?

Why, yes. So I spent the first weekend of my new life at Holy Cross.

Lo, the very dry bones of my brain! The atrophied sinews of my silence, the weakened flesh of awareness, the porous skin of my interior chaos absorbing exterior chaos. And no breath at all. So all weekend, bone to bone, sinew to sinew, muscle, flesh and skin of my soul coming together in tortured measure, quickened by breath, breath not from four winds, but my own steady and boring inhaling and exhaling.

I learned about the kind of “thoughts” that float by in meditation which I characterize this way:

The Oil Tanker. Piloted by a drunk with a cargo of deeply entrenched dependencies and odious guilts, the erratic tanker swerves, in continual danger of hitting the abutments of the major commuter bridges of your brain straight on, spilling all its sticky contents upon the fresh water, killing birds and fish and spoiling the natural beauty of your mind.

The Tug Boat. The pretty little tug busily pulls and pushes you back from your costly, hard-won detachments. Hey! Here’s what you’ve forgot! I’ve got it for you! Long lost emotions you thought you’d gladly given away years ago. I’ve saved ‘em for ya!

The Clipper Ship. A cargo stowed with good ideas, buoyed along by brilliant, sun-lit sails, full with speeding winds of insight. You might miss this silent wonder if you don’t run along the shore shouting, How beautiful, unique, singular, how glorious you are!”

The Ocean Liner. The observation deck is crammed with all the people displaced by your meditation, throwing confetti and streamers, drinking champagne, wrapped in their best furs and hats and shoes, waving good ‘bye. We’ll send you a post card saying “We wish you were here,” they promise. Penned in that hostile script you know so well. Sorry you chose to open to The Other and not to … Us … says the post card between the hollow lines.

The Shrimp Boat. You can smell the The Shrimp Boat of Sin from far off shore. Decades of shrimp carcasses pressed by the weight of illegal and undocumented catches rot between the boards of the deck, baked in heat, the odor intensified by humidity and emboldened by time. All the old sins, rotting and pungent, coat every plank of the vessel, and new ones appear with the day’s catch, hauled up in the nets with swirls of plastic bags, dead fish, deformed crabs, and the odd tin can or old boot.

The Pirate Ship. Then there’s the Pirate Ship, disguised as an oil tanker, a tug boat, a clipper ship, an ocean liner, or a shrimp boat: anything necessary to hijack you from your meditation.


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