Do you know how sweet and pungent peaches smell in late summer? You breathe deeply the eau de peach–it’s like a fine wine–breathe deeper still–before the silver knife nicks fuzzy skin and slices deep into the essence of fruit. You cut slices, long wedges, and before your fingers wait for milk and granola you bring sweet peach nectar to your lips and taste.
Magnificent peach! There is nothing like it in the world. You are in heaven. Peach at perfect golden ripeness. Ahhhh…exquisite joy of being alive!
Everything ripens in its own time. You’re ripening, dear reader. I’m ripening. We’ll be ripening until the day we compost the earth, providing rich soil for peaches and sunflowers and other glories.
Nature contains rhythms, cycles. In summer she’s scurrying wildly putting forth planting and harvesting energy. Oh, in summer she’s such a wild one! In autumn she relaxes, searching in her closet for bright reds and yellows and oranges to wear. In winter, she hibernates (OK, she snows, too, ice-cold pellets, sending all good humans inside to tell stories and slumber). In spring she’s peppering the ground with seeds, telling seed-stories, enthralling sun to shine and clouds to weep and winds to energize.
Oh she’s a changeable one, dear nature, and don’t we love her so?
She comes forth, she retreats, she’s one thing, she’s another. We can never truly capture her in words as she’s everything–even us!
I love cycles of turning outward, then moving inward.
Several times each year I “retreat” away from as much outward movement, nurturing and watering inner sprouts. These times are precious gifts, delightful moments, searching hours, OK, let’s be honest, sometimes painful births.
But mostly my retreat-times are so healing.
This time I retreated for about ten days. It often seems to require ten days to two weeks to breathe so deeply that peaches become magical creatures from the Garden of Eden.
Sometimes it takes only a week to retreat; other times a month. You can never schedule, as Mother Nature takes no reservations at her reflection spa.
A friend fretted that she worried about me in these retreat times.
Oh no, I said. I am never more alive, present, immersed in life.
From what do I retreat?
From patterns and habits and mind-activity and creative sharing.
From habitual movements toward the computer, toward checking email too compulsively, toward too much caffeine. From telling too many endless stories in the mind.
When one ceases filling one’s empty moments with busy-ness, a sense of Presence opens up. When one ceases identification with yammering thoughts and stories, it’s possible to sit on the deck and delight in chickadees and robins and whip-poor-wills for a good hour without reaching for something to cover up the moment.
Of course, it’s possible to be 100% present and engaged in life without periods of retreat and reflection. My greatest desire is to be “here-now” in as many moments as possible.
But I have discovered that times of retreat and reflection inspire, heal and renew.
Deeper peace blossoms.
Do you carve time for regular retreat into your life? Is it challenging or easy for you? What are some of the benefits you’ve noticed?