<I thought this post got published last Monday, but as I started working on my post for today, I discovered this post never published. I didn’t want my thoughts to go unpublished and my wonderful readers to be short changed on some amazing insight, so I figured I’d post it now. (note the sarcasm regarding “my amazing insight”)>
I’ve not written anything in 8 days again. I’m still on the challenge, but things have drastically changed. On Thursday I went with my Father-in-Law and Brother-in-Law on a 4 day silent retreat at a Jesuit retreat house at Lake Elmo, MN. I’ve never been on a silent retreat nor have I done anything that involved Jesuits so you can imagine my trepidation.
I won’t go too far into the details of the retreat, but I will say, it was very much a life changing experience. How much so, I guess I’ll find out a year from now as this is intended to be at the very least, an annual thing.
There were two primary things I noticed when dinner completed Thursday evening and strict silence was expected the remainder of the retreat.
- My mind was filled with a million useless thoughts, most of which I couldn’t concentrate on enough to parse into a coherent thought in the first place.
- When silent long enough, my thoughts became theological and somewhat poetic. I started thinking I might actually be a smart person (when I left and started talking again that feeling went away… ha ha ha)
I was so anxious the weeks and days leading up to the retreat. I worried about what I would do for four days with no phone, no Internet, no TV, no anything I loved. How uncomfortable was it going to be, being around 70 other men who also could not talk but had all mostly already been to several retreats themselves? How will I ask where the bathroom is? How will I know what to do?
Getting there and diving in, I found the silence was my favorite part. Growing up on the farm I loved going out into the woods for hours alone and just listening. I was able to do this again and it was wonderful. I felt like I was a part of some secret society of brothers. A very, very quiet society of brothers. But our eyes say so much. A head nod meant more than simply “hello,” it meant “Welcome friend and brother.” A quick point at the dinner table meant so much more than just “Please pass the butter.” It meant, “Please pass the butter, so I can eat my 4th slice of bread because there’s no way I’m eating these disgusting prunes, which I saw you try, and yes, I saw you almost threw up, and yes, I did that 10 years ago at my first retreat too, welcome brother.”
My first experience at the Jesuit retreat house was wonderful. I will be going again every year so long as I’m able. The retreat didn’t particularly help my weight loss, but I wouldn’t say it hurt it that much. Yes, on Monday when I weighed myself, I was up 1.6 lbs, but I still felt I did quite well. Considering they provided 3 very square meals per day as well as coffee and cookies twice per day, I think only being up 1.6 lbs is pretty good. I started very strong, passing on extra bread and cookies. By the last day, yes, I caved. I could not resist the cookies any longer and I had 7. It was pretty bad, but so so good. The main thing is that Monday, I got back on my diet. Today, I’m on my diet. Not only was the retreat a mental/spiritual growth opportunity, but it was a great opportunity to test what I’ve learned and built in these last 133 days of my weight loss challenge. I wasn’t perfect, but I also didn’t go hog wild. I ate well, and I tracked what I ate. I had to do a lot of guessing, and I had to do all my tracking on paper, but I did it, and it was easy to do.
I’m so thankful for the opportunity, and I can’t wait for next year, but more importantly, I can’t wait until lunch, because I’m pretty darn hungry. 🙂
Have a great day everyone!