Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Psalm 123 (124) Vs. 6,7
A few weeks ago, I made my annual week long retreat. In the title of this series of posts I have put the word ‘Retreat’ in quotation marks as here. To remind us that Lent is not a time for retreating per se, but rather a time for engagement, which is the proper understanding of a Retreat. It is not a time for ‘getting away from it all’ – quite the opposite. Indeed if we retreat well, then we begin to understand that we cannot ‘get away from it all’, but that is another matter.
On my retreat I was Graced with several healing gifts – in particular gifts of disconnection, or better, disconnection from my disconnectedness. The Poustinia which I occupied was ‘Off Grid’, that is there was no electricity – and off the net. Both of these gifts had a profound effect in reconnecting myself – more explicitly to my body, which is and always will be part of me.
Firstly I want to think about the effect of being off-grid. The gift of this for my body was that I observed my day by the light of the day. It was not artificially prolonged. Our bodies, which are and always will be part of us, are tuned not to the fires we have lit for ourselves, rather they are tuned to the rhythm of light and dark which is part of our existence on earth. This is a connection we have lost and in no small part is responsible for our lack of knowledge of who we are, and as always, who we are before God. In other words artificial light it is part of the Illusory experience which has caused us to lose touch with Reality.
During my retreat, day broke at 6 am. It was then that the rhythm of prayer began, prayer and small labours such as tidying my room and preparing food. As night fell, 15 hours later, after a brief time of meditative prayer, I slept.
As has been noted, when we observe proper rhythms, we often wake for a period in the night. This time could profitably be given to prayer until such time as sleep kicked in again. (A mirror of the need to rest in the middle of the day).
I paid attention to my body. And my body thanked me for it. I disconnected and discovered how disconnected I was.
Lent is a time for such disconnection, healing disconnection. Not to reconnect, but to discover the truth of our disconnected existence, to recover who we are as created beings, souls AND bodies, which are and always be part of us. In ‘getting away from it all’, we rediscover our identity.
‘If you are . . . ‘ ‘If you are . . .’ ‘If you are . . .’