Holy Isle 2

Over the new year I went on retreat to Holy Island; this is day 2 of the blog I wrote while I was there...

There is something sublime about rising in darkness to go over to a converted boat house to meditate.  We trudge through the damp dark to a warm, wood-panelled room dedicated to prayer and meditation.  We sit for an hour or so and then emerge into the half-light feeling fresher, cleaner inside, clearer mentally and more at peace.

And the wonderful thing about being on retreat is that, if you desire it, you don't have to 'be' anyone.  People respect your personal space and private intention as nowhere else.  So if you want to chat, there are plenty of people to chat with, but if you choose to be silent, you will be left alone.  Nobody will think anything of it.  It is very comforting to be with people who don't need you to be anyone or to show them who you are, and who don't think anything of it if in the morning you chat away merrily, but in the afternoon you eat lunch alone and then curl up in a corner with a book.

Perhaps this freedom is quite hard for some (we're so used to using short cuts to suss people out - if you have children, what you wear, what job you do), but soon enough everyone seems to settle into just being here.


I sit through a meditation session alongside a Buddhist nun and marvel at her open face, bright eyes and cheerful, child-like demeanour.  She smiles, not to make you happy, or to demonstrate to you that she is happy, but because there is so much joy in the world that she simply can't help smiling about it.  As a child would.  I wonder when and why and how we learn to guard our joy and fascination with the world and why we seem to value seriousness over light-heartedness.  It seems to me that the serious work of life is staying light of heart.  This nun has found a way to rewind that guarding process.  We should all find a way to do that.


  1. Doesn't seem easy to just "be".
    The joy of wonder - why should children have all the fun?! V.
    PS Like the labels, they are useful.


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