I went to the Cenacle Retreat House in Houston with 17 other ladies from our church, Friday at 6:30 pm - Sunday at 4:30 pm and during that time I had about 40 hours of quiet time, and it was incredible! It was by far my favorite retreat ever! If you know me, you know that I enjoy talking, but what you may not know about me is that as equally, I enjoy my silence and solitude. I so wish I had a retreat like this when I was going through my cancer, just to help me think and process a bit better. If you have just found out that you have cancer or perhaps you are just dealing with it, I highly suggest this place as a retreat. Of course, anyone can attend and I am hoping that our church may start to consider having this retreat two times a year instead of just the one. In fact I joked about a frequent stay card that after buying 4 stays you get your 5th for free or something to that effect. I would so sign up for that!
It's right in the Memorial area of Houston, right off Kirkwood and it's tucked away in a bunch of trees, mostly pines that seem to block out the majority of noise except for some light traffic. It's close to Terry Hershey Park with it's walking trails and the bayou. It is so peaceful and the nature is gorgeous, even during the yucky Houston winter. Sunday was the best with the temp at around 70 and clear blue skies.
When we got there we got our room assignments. I was in #8 which was in the back of our building and perfect. The rooms are sparse, filled with only the necessities of a bed, side table, desk, and a chair with a homemade quilt wrapped over the back. There is also a small cut out for a closet and a sink. No coffee pots, blow dryers, TV's, alarm clocks or perks that you might find in a traditional retreat. In fact the bathrooms and showers were shared by all and totally fine.
After getting settled in, we attended a short meeting where we got quickly acquainted with one of the seven sweet nuns that live and run the house, Mary. We went around and each woman stated their name and why they were attending, which was nice, but way too fast as I hardly knew any of them. We learned about the places we could visit and even a few rules on what to do, like avoid eye contact so you aren't tempted to talk and if you seeing someone crying leave them alone because God can handle it.
After our introductory meeting we were released and we could do whatever we wanted. The big thing we had to pay attention to was a bell that rang to tell us to come to the meals being served cafeteria style in the dining room. Breakfast was at 8:30 and so I had over 12 hours to have complete freedom! I quickly ran to a reading room, one of many and got familiarized with some amazing books. I sat for almost 3 hours there and then I went back to the main house where I hunkered down on the living room couch, read some more and then went to bed around 11.
Each day I spent most of my time reading. I probably got in about 14 - 16 hours of reading in. It was awesome! In fact I read so much my eyes hurt and so on Saturday I took two mini naps of about 30 minutes each. I wrote and thought and prayed and well just enjoyed the silence. There are beautiful peacocks and peahens that live there and the cock made all these noises as if to be meowing for help which was interesting. It's the beginning of mating season. You could hear the wind chimes gently touched by the light breeze, birds chirping contently and even the wind made its voice heard in the stillness of it all.. Have I already said how awesome it was?
There are hammocks, swings and chairs everywhere. Walking trails lead through woods, past creeks and I walked leisurely on small hills and subtle curves, which is quite fun in the Houston flatlands, where even the slightest hill is exciting. Sunday, I enjoyed a hammock for over an hour and even got a bit of sun stuck on my cheeks which I am enjoying, especially considering that tomorrow the weather has predicted, believe it or not - snow!
On Sunday afternoon we were could eat lunch together (instead of two people at a eight-top table) and talk, which everyone was excited to do. I enjoyed the visiting with the ladies, but quite honestly I could have stayed in the silence longer, which was an earlier prediction that I publicly mentioned in our first meeting when the question was asked "Do you have any fears about this weekend?" I said that I might not want to leave. I was the last one there as I left at around 4:30 after finding a passage in a book and getting one of the nuns to make a copy for me. It's incredible and if you ask for it, I'll give you a copy.
I came back home around 5:30 after grabbing Smashburger on the way back. Mark basically said Hi and Bye and was off to work where he stayed till 11:30 or so. I was thrilled to see my kids and all was great until I was quickly reminded how much noise they make. I had a beer and went to bed after Downton Abbey and then falling asleep during Sherlock.
What a great life I have! I am so blessed and very Thankful!
I have an appointment at MD Anderson on Thursday at 2:00. I'll let you know how it goes.
Have a great day!