Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Withdrawing versus Escaping

They have not come to the monastery to escape 
from the realities of life but to find those realities: 
they have felt the terrible insufficiency of life in a civilization 
that is entirely dedicated to the pursuit of shadows. 
~ Thomas Merton

At various times throughout my life, I have felt the desire to escape for a few days or weeks to a monastery or cloister. I knew I didn't want to go some place where an elevated entity was going to provide inspiration and answers; rather, I craved a place of solitude, apart from all other distractions, where I could look inside myself and listen only for the voice of God. "Escape" was often the word I used, but I think, perhaps, that "withdraw" is the more accurate term. I should clarify - I have never actually followed through on this "escape."

I became reacquainted with Thomas Merton in a little book (Mornings with Thomas Merton) I picked up at the infamous Women's Retreat mentioned in an earlier post (Days of Wine and Sticker Roses). And this morning I felt compelled to renew that acquaintance with him yet again. 

I find myself in one of those places in my life where the need to withdraw from the pursuit of shadows is strong. I don't envision myself heading off to a cloister anytime soon, and certainly not a (read in hushed tones) Women's Retreat. Nevertheless, I am going to seek some time to withdraw in the cloister of my own little home. The Frau and I have gone our separate ways, and while I find this to be a most right decision, I'm not just bounding off into the future with a carefree Tigger-like spring in my step. I'm going to need some withdrawal time, not to escape from the realities of life but to find those realities . . .  I will share my journey as I am able.

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