A CONUNDRUM, I wrote, ten days ago. Hard to leave the parish behind, though I love holidays. Well I’ve come full circle. It’s hard today to leave this retreat, though I love my parish. Maybe that’s just what life is. Conundrum. Brain teaser, enigma, puzzle, a quandary.

What is the answer? There is no easy answer, no complete answer. I have only clues, shells from the sea. The bare beauty of the channelled whelk tells me that one answer, and perhaps a first step, is in simplification of life, in cutting out some of the distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible. I cannot shed my responsibilities. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance, somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life. I can at least practice in these two weeks the simplification of outward life, as a beginning. I can follow this superficial clue, and see where it leads. Here, in beach living, I can try. One learns first of all in beach living the art of shedding …

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift from the Sea

A balance, somewhere, or an alternating rhythm, between the many different facets of the complex creature – the lifetime conundrum – that is me. Balance, yes, that’s what I’m after. So I’m thankful that contemplation is God-given grace, not only within silence, or in withdrawal, but also in happenstance, daily enterprise, everyday action. Another both / and. Conundrum. But we’re given a constant stream of clues. Like an alphabet, an equation, another person, or musical notation. Renewed vision. Solitude and communion. Shells from the sea.

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Fuerteventura, Spain

One thought on “ONLY 10 DAYS AGO

  1. I like this post Simon, especially as my next essay is about retreats and how they can help to sustain us in ministry.

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