swim, retreat, and beauty

It has been a busy several weeks!  We relocated home base and spent the weekend unpacking endless boxes and more accumulated junk than I realized that we had.  I might keep moving regularly if only to necessitate the purge that comes with that change.  Transitions are a test in gracefulness.  Not exactly my strength.  Three thoughts on this sunny August day, as has become customary:

1.  I had the opportunity to swim in the Gulf a couple of weeks ago along a deserted stretch of beach.  Ominous storm clouds were out in the distance and I could see dolphins not far from where I was.  As I stood in the surf and looked around me, it occurred to me that I could have just as easily stood there a million years ago just as I was.  There was nothing artificial about the moment, nothing man made.  No electronics.  No schedule.  Time stopped.  It was a baptism of sorts, an immersion in the present.

2.  I depart for Manresa on Thursday.  I am already imagining the last couple of miles before St. Mary's Hall comes into view.  It is a homecoming every time I go.  There is my Saturday night walk to the chapel and my Sunday morning vigil in a private area.  My walking meditation between an alley of oaks done only once a year.  And a couple of runs along the banks of the Mississippi, where someone usually runs with me courtesy of imagination.  I am grateful to get to be there in that space again this year.

3. I am slowly working my way through John O'Donohue's writing on beauty. It is incredibly rich.  Beauty has always seemed an unnecessary luxury.  I am starting to see that it is at the essence of the spiritual life. I am making my belated trip to Ireland next month and I am excited to see the wild countryside he has written and spoken of. 

A small piece from O'Donohue:

"Beauty dwells at the heart of life.  If we can free ourselves from our robot-like habits of predictability, repetition and function, we begin to walk differently on the earth. We come to dwell more in the truth of beauty." 


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