Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amid the whirlwind

When the world around you is in a whirl
where do you go to find your center?
Do you find it in a sunset
or waking to a glorious sunrise?

Is it in the brush of summer petals?
Or the trickle of rain down the window?

Do you have a spot that is just your own?
A place where you go to read, to dream, to think.
Perhaps it's there.

Original art uploaded by Pat Spiller
from an altered book in progress, 2007

In September, Larry and I took the Uncle Oscar from Rye Harbor and made for the Isles of Shoals for our almost-annual Mid-Week Retreat on Star Island.

All summer long, there are weekend and week-long conferences on Star. But our favorite is Mid-Week II, typically held during the final week before the entire island is buttoned up for the winter. At a usual summer conference on Star, there is a lot of action, families doing, learning, playing. But at Mid-Week II, there are few activities: none planned, none mandatory. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Naps. Rocking on the wide veranda in the old fashioned chairs. Reading. Dreaming or just looking on this island world with a soft gaze.

So, we retreated once again to the tiny island that could be miles and miles away but isn't; it could be in another century, but isn't. On Star, there are no roads, no automobiles save the one utility truck that runs from the dock to the hotel with supplies. There are no newspapers, no radio or TV, no telephones or computers. It is peaceful and quiet. The Atlantic laps the shore. Lobster boats working or a sail boat doing its water ballet. Thats all. There are no street lights and when evening falls the island is dark; coastline across the water looks like a necklace of jewels.

Each day on Star begins and ends with Chapel. A welcoming, peaceful, place of communion. Each time I leave, it is with a lighter heart. In the evening, along about 8:30, folks assemble on the porch to receive their lighted lanterns. We walk single file, silently up the little hill behind the Oceanic Hotel to the Chapel. The music beckons. Each person enters the tiny chapel and hangs his lantern on the wall and the room is soon flooded with a soft light. We sing. We listen. We pray. We commune in peaceful silence.

I find my center there.

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