The pond at Buttonbush Bridge is a magnet for me. My friend, Linda, and I are going to spend a week in silence during the first week of July at a nearby Jesuit retreat center. I am drawn into silence more and more deeply as the time approaches. I have done ten day word-fast retreats in groups before and with Richard from time to time, but this is the fist time I am going only with one friend to a place neither of us have been. Since we declined their proffered religious instruction, we will be totally on our own, in our private side by side rooms, sharing silent meals with others. Linda and I have yet to sit down to make loose plans together.
There are beautiful grounds surrounding the facility, with woodland trails that I doubt I will be able to access using only my rollator for stability. We need to agree on signs- Do you want to walk outside after lunch? Do you want to sit together this afternoon? Do you/I need a hug if we are stuck and are going through a hard time? How are you doing?
My personal choices for myself abound as well. Hopefully the facility will respect my vegetarian- no gluten diet as they indicated, and I don’t need to bring any food. My biggest focus for this retreat is about releasing the wordsmith in my brain. I’d like to get to a point where I can sustain longer periods of time without words constantly naming, labeling, judging, reporting, and shaping my experience. That is a real challenge for the writer in me.
We all have quiet moments after vigorous activities, both mental but especially physical, when we lean on our rake, or knees, or desk, and simply stare out into the space around us. We are not particularly focused on anything, we just allow the quiet reflective moment to be. We don’t have to report to anyone but ourselves in those times. They are restful and nourishing and complete in and of themselves.
Meditation is like that for me. Lately, I find that as I practice sitting in meditation, I am less and less interested in the thoughts that stream by. They are there, but I am on a different wavelength below them. If I am caught by a daydream, I find I am simply less concerned about how it turns out, and drop it like Alkaseltzer into a glass of water. The fizz doesn’t even grab me anymore. The sound track dissipates into silence.
For that reason, sitting by the pond is as close as I can get to an open sky, gentle stillness, and absorption in something other than myself. It only takes a few minutes to get my “pond eyes” working. There are no big dramas; only very small ones that are revealed as I become more still.
Buttonbush Bridge Pond
feather the breeze
cottonwood tree puffs
skid along the surface
edging delicately down
to the algae mats
Small birds appear to
walk on green carpets
fluttering along twigs jutting up
between water soaked roots
A single frog glurks
another croaks repetitively
triggering a belching circumference
rounding off into silence
the swift dip of a bird wing
gentle circles of doomed cottonwood seeds
Like a watercolor painting
I take the landscape with me when I go.