Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Learning to Retreat

It is officially the half way mark of our vacation, and I can see why Anne Lindbergh says in Gift from the Sea that you really don't start letting go, calming your soul, finding peace until the second week. While I am loving this place I am in, both geographically and spiritually, I can see why another week or more would bring even more of this feeling of calmness.

I think it takes a week to rid oneself of bills, laundry, work, housekeeping, and all the things that are burdensome. I do feel relaxed and calm but I can see becoming more so if there were more time to retreat.

To truly retreat I would perhaps come on my own, not blog, not check mail, not make plans. It was hard for Anne Lindbergh to let go of the same things that burden us as women especially, even in 1953. As I revisit Gift I am reminded how its wisdom crosses all generations. Decades have not changed its message and I doubt four or five more decades will either. In a way I believe it is even more difficult for us to retreat from the world, is easier to be lonely if alone, and to be challenged when withdrawing from the technology that constantly keeps us connected.

I've peeked into Gift just a bit while here. I couldn't remember if Anne used scallops as an example of one of the shells she used to inspire her writing. She did not. Scallops are everywhere on the beach and although I've picked up dozens, they continue to attract me. They are common but unique, like snowflakes I guess, or people. I find myself glancing down attracted by the variety of colors, a pale pink, orange, white, gray, or brown. I wonder where they've been, what they've experienced, how they've become who they are. Even the ones with barnacles attached are beautiful.

Most of the shell seekers on the beach are after that one prized shell, perfect and rare; I think I'd rather stick with that which is not fleeting, that which is still special no matter how common, that which has a story to tell.

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