CREDOS : Silent retreat — IV

A more positive adventure came during a self-imposed silent retreat at the New Camadoli Hermitage at Big Sur where I literally recovered the Hail Mary from my Catholic childhood. I had been practicing Insight Meditation for a number of years and only attended Mass on the holidays and rarely if ever prayed Christian prayers — not since college. On this particular day, I was walking on the monastery grounds and saw a sign for Stations of the Cross. Curious, I veered off the dirt road and plunged into a thicket. Everything was so overgrown that I never found the stations, but I did find, just off this almost impassable path, a grotto created by a canopy of trees and bushes, with a statue of Mary prominently displayed in the centre. There was a bench opposite, and I found myself sitting down and starting a conversation with Her. “Well, okay,” I said. “Here I am. Let’s see if I can pray your prayer.” I then proceeded to line edit the “Hail Mary.” Hail Mary…. Yes, I could, in good conscience, say that. Full of grace… Yes, I could say that. The Lord is with you… I could say that too. On it went, phrase by phrase. By the time I got to: “Now and at the hour of our death, Amen,” I felt that I had re-established tentative contact, not only with the Virgin Mary, but with my Catholic roots. The irony is that the more you “retreat,” the more you connect not only to the past, but to the present and to the world around you. — The New York Times