Monday, June 7, 2010

Retreat Blogging

So I am at the Passionists Retreat House in NYC, in the Bronx, relaxing in my room and looking out the window at the lovely view. It's very beautiful here, and everything is being done for us (cooking, cleaning etc) so that we can focus on our spiritual journies. I feel a little spoiled, and very happy.

Right now we are observing two hours of silence. We're welcome to do whatever we like, provided we do so without talking. I am currently listening to Peter Gabriel's Passion, and processing through the things that have happened to me in the past few days.

We've been working through the exam questions, as a group rather than one on one, for which I am quite happy. I tried to make sure to answer questions I was uncomfortable with as well as ones I knew well. A few I simply felt I HAD to answer. I tried not to talk too much, but to say things I felt were important or different from my fellow seminarians. I think I did alright.

The culmination of the questioning process was held in a single large group, with all 60 or so students present. I did fine, and even answered one question. I felt comfortable. After we were done, though, a friend of a friend came up to me and thanked me for my contributions. For a variety of reasons, I just... started crying. I couldn't stop.

I eventually went outside to try and get myself under control. I had totally forgotten (despite being excited about it a few minutes earlier) that I needed to say the lunchtime prayer. Dean Deb found me wandering around outside, snuffling in a kleenex. I did manage to pull it together and hussle into the dining room, but I felt somewhat scattered. I think I did alright, in that several people commented on what a lovely prayer I'd said and how it resonated with them. I just wish I could remember what I said, because I have absolutely no recollection of it at all. I'm frustrated about that.

After I was done, I had to go out in the hall again and finish up my cry. I had Deans asking after me, and fellow students. I struggled with feeling silly. I kept saying, truthfully enough, that I was just processing.

What had really started it was the reminder of my friend Suz. During the past several years, Suz has been a real inspiration to me. She's a wonderful Hellenic and pagan, very devout, full of the kind of love and compassion that I hope to hold within me some day. When things went odd at Neos Alexandria and Neokoroi last year, Suz was there. During that whole time, she listened, gave feedback, and held sacred space for a great number of hurting people. She was also hurting a lot herself because one of her precious horses was having medical problems, and it just ate at her heart and soul, yet she still found the fortitude to help others.

Still, all the above could have been done by anyone, or several someones. It might have been a stretch, but it was possible. What she did that no one else could have, what she did in such a compassionate and yet firm and barbed way, was to kick me in the ass and tell me to come up for air. She knew many details, knew very much about the situation, and still allowed me to make mistakes until she knew the time was right. And then she gave me the boot.

Looking back on that time, it was the single most valuable gift I've received in many years. She disrupted my wallow of pain, and my spiral of confusion, and set me on a (painful and difficult) path to healing. She forced me to think about something other than me. I owe her so much. I'm sending back numerous hugs and much love with our mutual friend.

So today I cried tears for that time. Perhaps it is the last of the pain of it leeching out, or maybe it's shame for my own actions. It doesn't really matter; the process continues, and I am handling it. Tonight is our class purification, and I do feel ready, prepared, and internally cleansed.
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