—Mandala, gel pens on paper, (c) Cat Charissage, 2017
Hello dear friends,
Early last week I was able to take 2 full days away at a local retreat center for a silent, private retreat. I read and slept and centered and just sat. Listening. It was great; I only wish it could have been a week or two longer!
I was very glad to return to my guys, though, too. (That is, spouse and young adult son) As I write you it’s still February, a new moon, and I feel very much in the energy of not knowing what’s coming next, but feeling something . . . . How about you at this time of year? I’m still crafting a life I would love to live, finding the balance between activity and contemplation, between what I’d like to do and what’s even possible, between not getting any sleep and sleeping in, figuring out what’s in my control and what isn’t.
I spent the first half of my life finding out, it seems, that so much more was possible and in my control than I had ever imagined; now it seems that I’m well acquainted with fate, chance, destiny, and a fair amount of chaos — somehow it’s a perfect analog to how I knew so much more 30 years ago than I do at this age! Building, letting go. Building again, visited by the unexpected.
I’ve included the poem I wrote at the end of the retreat. I hope that you, too, are able to settle in to heartfulness.
With much love,
FROM MINDFULNESS TO HEARTFULNESS —Cat Charissage, February 2017
Today I return home from a silent retreat.
Silence. In an 8′ x 10′ room with comfy chair
and not so comfy bed;
meals prepared by the sisters of St. Martha,
otherwise I’m lovingly, prayerfully, ignored.
Maybe this can all be reduced to a shift in brainwaves
from beta to somewhere between alpha and theta.
Maybe; and, it feels exquisite.
A quality of quiet different from most days,
most akin to a middle of the night quiet
when all is well in the world.
All, of course, is not well in our world
Yet at the same time there is a place where
all is well
and all shall be well
and all manner of thing shall be well
as Julian of Norwich told us from plague-ridden England.
I want to live there, here, in this state:
quiet, alert, alive
open, receptive, listening
I am not lonely, but part of;
Happy in my heart and ready to respond.
My scalp muscles have unclenched.
I hadn’t noticed that they’d been tight.
My inner organs relax, rest.
Blood flows easily, freely, throughout.
Words come, go.
I could live like this. . .
I want to live like this,
ease, grace, flow . . .
Here I am.
Here I belong
happily in the mystery of all,
that Mystery whose center is everywhere,
Another node of consciousness in the All,
I am grateful.
—watercolor and crayon on sketch paper, (c) Cat Charissage, 2017