I've just returned from another ten-day retreat. It was a boost to my practice, but not in the way I was expecting (like so many things).
The place that I visited has been in my mind as a place of future residence; where I would someday ordain. I love the women there, but I have had some recent doubts as to whether or not it would be a good fit. Of course I'll visit again, and my mind may change...again. But right now, I'm not sure what will happen. Due to current circumstances, it would be a while before I would be able to join the community, and a lot can happen in the meantime.
But the visit helped greatly in another regard. I realized that I've been stumbling along a bit, waiting for this magical moment of joining a monastery or hermitage so that my practice could begin in earnest. In the meantime, I've been sort of trudging along in my practice, getting blown a bit here and there by prevailing winds. This time I had a real citta sensation that my practice can't wait. The ordination may not happen. But my real regret if I died tomorrow, would not be so much that I didn't ordain, but rather that my practice thus far had not borne much fruit. So I realized that my practice needs to begin in earnest....right now. Working towards the end of suffering with diligence at this and every moment. So the trip has provided a great boost of spiritual energy in unexpected ways.
I still plan to live in a community at some point, but my practice won't be waiting until that happens.