Scenes From A Retreat

When despair for the world grows in me … I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry,
from his poem “The Peace of Wild Things”

(photos not in chronological order, which bugs me, but blogger is being stupid)

All hail the camera timer, so one can take photos of oneself in utter solitude. Me, and my hermitage. This is the same one I stayed in last year.

We had some storminess roll through on Monday, although we only got a spot of rain, just enough to wake up the desert and scrub out my lungs with that amazing scent. I climbed up the little hill to take this photo of my hermitage and the sunset. In the larger version I think you can see the candlelight inside the windows.

The chapel and bridge leading to the cloister. Amazing late afternoon light breaking through the stormy clouds, an hour or so before I took the photo just above.

I saw LOTS of bluebirds, every day. Or, I suppose, the same bluebird, a gazillion times a day. Anyway, this little fella was enjoying riding that branch headed facefirst into the wind. I was welcomed on my arrival by a trinity of deer munching shrubbery on the side of the road.

A little revolutionary declaration on the wall inside.

I once heard Bernice Johnson Reagon say, “Wade in the water. If you don’t get in trouble, you’ll never know who you are.” So there you go. I would just like to add that the water in that creek was VERY cold…first snowmelt from the Sangre de Cristos.

Stepping Westward

What is green in me
darkens, muscadine.
If woman is inconstant,
good, I am faithful to
ebb and flow, I fall
in season and now
is a time of ripening.
If her part
is to be true,
a north star,
good, I hold steady
in the black sky
and vanish by day,
yet burn there
in blue or above
quilts of cloud.
There is no savor
more sweet, more salt
than to be glad to be
what, woman,
and who, myself,
I am, a shadow
that grows longer as the sun
moves, drawn out
on a thread of wonder.
If I bear burdens
they begin to be remembered
as gifts, goods, a basket
of bread that hurts
my shoulders but closes me
in fragrance. I can
eat as I go.

–Denise Levertov


8 thoughts on “Scenes From A Retreat

  1. Wow from me also. I love the photo of the hermitage against the stormy sky with the candle lit. Feels like I'm there (although I appreciate that would be kinda against the point!).
    I'm going to appropriate the Wendell Berry quote for my tumblog, it says so very much to me.

    And I have to just add that the word verification for this comment is restere (rest 'ere, you see?). I love those quirky little things.


  2. i keep going back to these pictures
    i think i want to go here
    i hope that wouldn't be intrusive to you
    if i do
    its lovely
    but more than that
    deeper than that
    or maybe that's just what i imagine
    by YOU


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