‘The Father spoke one word from all eternity and he spoke it in silence, and it is in silence that we hear it.”
–St. John of the Cross

You know how when you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before, and you’re driving hopefully down the road and you see some unbelievable place and for a minute you think, Maybe that’s it! Except inevitably it turns out your place is the sort of dumpy one with the unpromising yard several doors down? You grow to love it anyway, but it’s never the unbelievable place.

Well this time, it’s the unbelievable place. THE biggest, grandest, most gorgeous place, among a whole slew of gorgeous old New England beach houses, in one of the most beautiful spots in the fishing port of Gloucester.

Which I say not to brag; rather, to emphasize this insight from St. Ignatius: “God will not be outdone in generosity.”  I  can’t quite believe I got it together to treat myself to the 30-day Exercises. The operative point of which will not be the place, splendid though it is, but what happens while I’m here.

This was the scene from my room the first morning I woke here. I shot from my bed like a cannonball.

Each morning since I’ve been drawn from bed by sunrise (4:30-ish), whether or not I’ve had enough sleep. Coffee. Cough from person in stone (main) house. Otherwise, quiet.

Many nooks and crannies. Creaking stairways. Massive marble floors, mahogany fireplaces, French doors with comfortably peeling paint. Everywhere, a view through fly-and spider-specked windows. Blankets of beach roses. In the dining room, a row of seaward-facing chairs with binoculars, bird guides, notebooks in which to record the weather, general thoughts, and animal sightings.

Animals seen Monday:

Small white butterfly.
Coyote or wolf, slinking away in a thicket of beach roses.
Mallard duck.
Coton-tail rabbit.

Features of accommodations and grounds:

A daybed in a screened off spot with pillows, a blanket, a lamp, a table on which to put your books.

Laundry with clothesline/clothespins.
Art supplies.

Unbelievably good, intelligently-prepared food. Available 24/7, Fair Trade coffee and real half and half. Organic black tea. Fruit, cookies and juice.

Three chapels.
A series of interlocking paths through the woods to the beach. Outdoor Stations of the Cross. Adirondack chairs. Lawn, gravel drives, a walk around Niles Pond, with its mallard ducks, cormorants, lily pads, and swans. A short walk away, Dog Bar, with its wildlife sanctuary and lighthouse.
Coolish sea breeze.

Every morning at 9, a meeting with my spiritual director.

other than to my spiritual director,
the other morning

17 Replies to “SILENCE”

  1. Where that experience as well as the most wonderful thing that can be brought forward, as well as space scenes you can feel.

  2. Anonymous says: Reply

    So happy for you!

  3. Echoing the sentiments of others, I am thrilled for you, Heather! And aren't sunrises wonderful? And good spiritual directors? And confrontation rabbits? And coffee, forsooth!

  4. Auto-correct! Cotton-tail rabbits!

    1. oh you nature-loving, grammarian/usage sticklers! Thanks, Tom D, correction made.

  5. Enjoy, Heather! My husband and I go up to Cape Ann once every 2 – 3 years and last year we made a detour to visit the Retreat House. What a beautiful spot – everything you mentioned and more. I can't think of a better place to make the 30-day.


  6. Have a fruitful and blessed retreat. God abundantly provided!! What a Glorious place! A 30 day retreat, respite, recoiling from everydayness… Surely must be heavenly. Praise God. (I am there in my spirit)

  7. Thanks, people, you are with me in spirit. Part of me feels GUILTY for a month of such abundance (once a Yankee, always a Yankee) but then I remember I'm being fortified to go back and bring it back to the world…

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