A Gift of Silence

Happy Birthday to me! I turned, um, really old last week and my gift to myself was a weekend stay at a retreat center. Many of you know that I attend half-day retreats on the first Friday of each month and the weekend-long retreat held in October. But I had never tried living in one of the two hermitages (small cabins) built for one and available all year. When I realized that the half-day retreat in February fell on my birthday, I reserved a hermitage so I could stay all weekend.


After the retreat was over at 1:00 on Friday, I moved into this little place and spent the rest of the weekend by myself and unscheduled. The vintage quilt on the bed is one I bought at an estate sale several years ago and have never actually used until now. The other half of the hermitage had a bathroom and kitchenette. On my second night there I enjoyed a fire in the fireplace.

This time was not entirely for relaxation; there was work to do. I have not been able to write acknowledgements to all the people who did kind things for us when Gwen died. My mom tried to help me, but I could not talk to her and think about what I was writing at the same time. This project will involve about 350 pieces of mail and the magnitude of it all left me paralyzed with anxiety. Somehow I knew I could do it at the retreat center, and managed to finish about 50 notes in my time there. I cried a little, but marveled at how lucky we are to have that many people care about Gwen and about us.

The weather was rainy and overcast but this didn’t stop me from hiking around the 140 acres in my new boots bought especially for the occasion. I rambled all over the property without meeting another person from mid-Friday until I left at noon on Sunday. Even in the dead of winter, there were interesting sights to be seen.

Like laughing trees

Laughing tree root

smiling tree Laughing tree

Twisty things




A fairy garden

Fairy Garden

Lots of cool fungi

Fungus yellow fungus



pink and green fungus

pretty blue green fungus

And even a few signs of spring

Signs of spring Signs of spring

Other activities included reading, writing brilliant ideas in a notebook, contemplating the future, napping under my beautiful quilt at 2:00 pm every day and drinking lots of hot chocolate. Oh, and totally not caring what my hair looked like or how much mud was on my jeans 🙂

Weekend retreats provide enough time to detach and reboot your brain, but then it’s time to go home. What would happen if I stayed long enough that the novelty of silence and solitude wore off? Would this make me bored or would it open up space for some great epiphany? I wonder….

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6 Responses to “A Gift of Silence”

  1. Erica Says:

    Belated happy birthday! Sounds like a wonderful way to spend it.

  2. melissa Says:

    sarah, I’m so glad that you were able to do this for yourself. Diane has a little something for you. xo

  3. jek Says:

    what a lovely gift to yourself. it looks like a wonderful place to be.

  4. liveparadox Says:

    Ooh, love the fungi, they’re spectacular! Those gorgeous striations make me want to get into colour knitting…

  5. Sarah's Sister Says:

    “Cool Fungus” would be a great name for a rock band.

  6. Tam Hess (TangoAlphaMike) Says:

    I love those trees!! I love that you go on a retreat every month, I think I might have to try and schedule the same kind of thing. I wish people (my sis) understood how much better you feel when you can “get away” and, like you said, reboot! It makes one a better person, I think!! xoxo

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