For those of you who do not know me, this is the time of year I attend to my annual ritual of a solitary retreat, taking my tent camper to an empty state park campground for the week. When I arrive late on Labor Day Monday, the campers are gone, the dumpsters are spilling over with trash, and only raccoons or cats scavenging for food can be seen in the campground.

A friend of mine remarked, “How can you spend a week by yourself? The most I have ever done is one day.”

After spending the mornings meditating and writing in the retreat journal, it is time to take a 3 hour hike on trails through woods and steep terrain. After an early dinner, I settle by the campfire or the river to read until dark, then retiring to sleep until the herons awaken me. (When I say dark, I mean dark, -- moonless, no electricity, stars only, dark. )

The retreat is an annual ritual; a time without human contact, a time to read, write and reflect on the life I have watched and lived over the past year.

“The life which is unexamined is not worth living.” Plato noted a few years ago.

Listening to the inner dialogue on retreat helps me find meaning in this life.

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