Since I spent my final Sunday as rector of St. Mary’s, it’s been a whirlwind of change and last things. As I worked on my transition plan, I knew I had a gift of an empty Sunday on the first day of Advent, when the Church celebrates a new year. I decided to go on a silent retreat with the sisters of St. Helena in Augusta, Georgia.
The podcasts and devotionals that have begun my mornings have been full of words about beginnings and endings. I feel a gift of opportunity in this time as I move from one part of my life to another.
There’s no direct flight to Augusta, so a friend offered to meet me in Atlanta and drive me to the Monastery. We went via one of my favorite towns, Athens, with time for coffee, a movie, a visit to a favorite potter, and a couple of great meals.
We walked into town for breakfast this morning. The need for silence was coming upon me, and my friend was wanting to visit a museum. As God would have it, my friend saw a notice for mindfulness meditation at the Georgia Museum of Art. Starting in twenty-five minutes.
We power-walked back to the hotel for the car and drove to the museum with five minutes to spare. Nothing like rushing to be still for meditation.
Inside the museum, we walked to a small gallery. We sat on folding stools and cushions with a group of people while a professor led us in an hour of meditation. For part of the time, we were invited to continue our meditative practice as we gazed at the art on the walls surrounding us.
The room where we sat in stillness was an exhibit of works created by Ted Kincaid called “Even if I Lose Everything.” On the walls were his digital images of clouds.
Using words like compassion, loving kindness, and appreciative joy, we meditated sitting, and then we stood or sat in front of the art and joined what we saw with the silence within.
The blues of the paintings and the intentional mindfulness was an unexpected beginning for my Advent retreat.
Now arrived at the Monastery, the silence begins.