This past week we were lucky. On two different days, friends visited. We sat around the table, candles burning. Warm light. And warmer still were the affections of shared experiences, common concerns, and revelations. Welcome and welcoming. Hospitality in the way of the Desert Mother and Fathers. Come and be at ease.
And this morning I am home alone, listening to the cars pass and looking toward the reservoir ( the other direction) for solace. The meaning of water. Yesterday I watched a blue heron chase an egret. Two days ago I saw a bald eagle, again, flying low and close. A thin layer of ice near the bank. It is my ocean these days. The trees, bare and loose vines hanging from upper limbs, as if suspended in air. I look to water. Reread a bookmark I had printed years ago: We can’t help being thirsty, Moving toward the voice of water (Rumi). Isn’t water always speaking to us? The reservoir draws me nearer to the unknown. How to embrace the Great Mystery, divinity?
Stacks of unread books everywhere in the house. This one, Holy Solitude: Lenten Reflections with Saints, Hermits, Prophets, and Rebels by Heidi Haverkamp, I carry with me lately and now, beside me on my desk. It begins with quotes by Thomas Merton and Teresa of Avila, often my guides day to day. Again Silence and Solitude. Coming to stillness. I’ve never understood Lent. Or took seriously the opportunity to move with a dedicated devotion during this particular time. Again like the Desert Mothers and Fathers. She writes, Solitude can be revolutionary. I know this to be true.
Haverkamp suggests that we prepare for Lent by preparing the home. Remove candles. Hang an austere wreath on your door. Outside still hanging, our Christmas wreath of magnolia leaves and red ribbon. So remove and place the simple grapevine wreath with no decorations. I realize I placed the vine wreath on the door last year, intuitively. The outward preparation.
I believe the inner preparations began with the visits this week. A reminder of the importance of connections with others. and then the move inward in appreciation and comfort that in our solitude we are not alone. We are listening. Ash Wednesday in three days. I prepare with curiosity.