Why do I drive two hundred miles just to spend a day not talking to anyone? Well, it’s mostly the cookies. Mercy Center, the place I go for my monthly silent retreat, has really good homemade cookies.
Also, I love the napping. I’m not really a napper during my ordinary day at home, but something about being at this retreat center pulls out my inner napper and I sleep really well.
The grounds are beautiful too, which for a Nevadan is very, very important. I’d drive that far just to see some green.
But, something deeper happens there that is hard to explain. It’s like I’m a jar full of dirty, swirling, poop water and when I get there, the sediment has a chance to settle and I begin to see things more clearly. Not that seeing things more clearly is always pleasant.
Sometimes I see my sin more clearly, or my insecurities, which are easy to hide from myself in my day-to-day life. Sometimes I see my hurts more clearly and it becomes apparent that I need to ask for help. Sometimes I see God more clearly.
During this most recent trip over the mountain to Mercy Center, all of these things happened for me. I took hecka good naps, ate plenty of homemade cookies and let everything settle.
I woke to the most astounding dream. It gave me fodder for prayer, and contemplation that led me to see some deep needs of my heart, of which I wasn’t even aware.
Mercy Center is also where I meet with Barbara. She has been my spiritual director for the last five years. She helps me to process what I see when things settle, and sometimes when they don’t. Most days I walk into her meeting room with absolutely NOTHING to talk about and in ten minutes I’m bawling like a baby. This crying, of course alternates with hysterical laughter because… she’s a lot of fun. All this emotional purging leads to more napping and cookie eating, but boy, do I come home renewed.
The other thing I do at Mercy Center is write. I’ve written a large percentage of my books there. And yesterday, during my talk with Barbara, as I was telling her about my insecurities, my needs, my cookie eating, and what the latest character in my new book is up to when suddenly, it all came together: My characters are 100% me at their deepest core. Any confusion, insecurity, proclivity…yep, if you dig deep enough, it’s mine.
Now THAT was a frightening revelation. I really, honestly thought they were a conglomeration of other people. And, in many ways they are: I borrow names, looks and mannerisms, but in reality, they are mostly me, yep me, in all of my swirling dirt. Put right out there for the whole world to see. What was I thinking to publish this stuff?
How do you get in touch with your inner self? What works for you?