Thursday, June 6, 2013

For one who loves seclusion

I recently returned from a ten day retreat at Birken. Throughout the retreat I was repeatedly moved by the force of having spiritual friends around me. In fact, May has been a month filled with spiritual friendship; with visits from the nuns of Aloka Vihara, then Ajahn Sucitto from Chithurst monastery, then the retreat at Birken. By the end of the retreat, I clearly heard the calling to live in a spiritual community.

Ironically, for years I have envisioned living on my own, and still quite enjoy the solitude that living by myself brings. Yet I am finding that there is a difference between seclusion of the mind and seclusion of the body. I am seeing more and more examples of those who can be in the midst of people and yet still be at peace.

Another part of living on my own that I enjoy is having the choice of when and how to do things. Yet there is a voice inside me that is whispering that the growth in practice lies in giving that choice over to the universe. Let's face it: it's really not us who are in control. We just like to think we are.

There are still some things here to work with for a while. I have an old dog to take care of until it's time for her leave this life. My son and daughter-in-law are in the local area for now - it's uncertain where they will end up next summer. I also will be working on financial preparation for future wanderings. And of course, preparing myself (if that's possible) for this transition.

I don't know at this point if this means getting ordained again, or living as a steward. My plan is to take an extended look at different monasteries and viharas in the future, and decide from there. As a teacher once said, "If you want to make the universe laugh, just develop a plan".  Keeping Lao Tzu's advice, I have no fixed plans and am not intent on arriving.