Abbey of Gethsemani
It is time for my annual Thanksgiving week retreat to the Abbey of Gethsemani near Bardstown, Kentucky. I have been spending the holiday week with the monks for the past few years, and I have been on retreats to Gethesmani many times over the past 30 years or so.
Last year, because the Abbey's guest house was closed for refurbishing, I retreated to Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. Although I spent a pleasant few days there, there is nothing quite like the silence and contemplative atmosphere of Gethsemani.
I'll have a private room with bath, a bed, a desk, a comfortable chair, and days of unstructured time.
I am so ready.
Of course, my biggest decision is what books to take. I usually pack more than I could ever read in a few days, but I never know what I might be in the mood for. The guesthouse has a wonderful library and I usually end up plucking a book or two off its shelves to explore as well.
After much consideration, I'll take only two books with me.
I just purchased a copy of The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll. I have toyed with my own version of this popular way of tracking time and tasks, and although it might sound an odd choice to take on retreat, I want to give the author's ideas and suggestions uninterrupted attention.
This is the opening line:
The Bullet Journal method's mission is to help us become mindful about how we spend our two most valuable resources in life: our time and our energy.
Seems like a good choice for contemplating the upcoming year.
The other book is one I have had for a while but have not had the opportunity to fully examine: A Book That Takes Its Time - An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness by the editors of FLOW magazine. It is filled with essays on slowing down, living with intention, and all sorts of creative paper goodies - postcards, stickers, collage elements, and fill-in lists. I love lists! It is a beautiful book and I can't wait to dive in. Slowly, of course.
I'll also take a few basic art supplies, my journal, and an open spirit. There are always surprising adventures to be enjoyed in this place that feels almost as familiar as home - but without chores and errands and the constant interruptions of technology.
If you are in America and celebrating this week, enjoy your Thanksgiving however you choose to spend it.