On some gray, misty, rainy morning, have you ever said to yourself,  “ I would so love to stay home, hibernate, read a good book and sleep all day.”  
 Suppose you did stay home on a rainy day, what would you do?  How would you spend your time?  

Now, imagine having six consecutive rainy days in which you stayed home?  
Misty fog hangs in the valley.

My annual retreat in an empty campground with six days in which it rained parts of each day gave me time to answer that question.    

Solitary retreats serve as a renewal time for the body, mind and soul;  for long walks  for dialogue with the Self, renew spiritual practices, and read a book or two, a time of being present oriented, grounded in nature and body.

 This year’s rains limited the hiking, eliminated the biking, confined the activities to mainly reading and writing;  a misty fog forcing me inside the camper and forcing my focus “inside.”  Listening to rain on the camper roof keeps one grounded in the physical realities of the present moment. 

Daily routines of writing journal pages, trying new meditation practices, hiking, reading, and sitting around campfires in the evening, all served to keep my mind focused on the self in present time   

Reading, or rather re-reading,  extensively highlighted books provided some touchstone experiences; reorienting myself to previous experiences of spiritual renewal. This year’s selections were Baldwin’s Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest, and Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now; two books pulled from my shelves at the office based on some intuitive impulse.

When it was raining,  extensive journal writing, hours of filling half of the new journal,  was the predominate activity.  A gratitude section.  A review of this year in a life.  An assessment  some things I have learned in this lifetime.  What to let go of and what to hold more dear.  And, some commitments toward a year ahead. 

Somewhere along the line, answers do arrive. Either in the question and answer form of journaling dialogue, a sudden inspiration in a highlighted line or two from a book, or from my own free form journaling in which I end up writing some thoughts I had no idea were in my mind. After 70 pages of writing, one finds perhaps seven lines that give inspiration, insight or enlightenment. But these are lines that come from inside, not from one of the books brought along. 

 Always a transcendent moment or two comes to me in this retreat week; a moment when the world looks surreal.  

Sunshine warms the river and the valley.
-        -  On the river bank, in my chair, writing, practicing meditation exercises, quietly , silently for half an hour when a large black heron with white tail cruises by at an altitude of 6 feet overhead on his way to run off a younger heron from his favorite fallen tree branch.   

-        -  A cloudless afternoon allowed the sun to shine onto the river valley bottom for a few hours, lifting of spirits and an animating all forms of wildlife out of their hibernation.

-        -  The full moon over head appearing brightly, fully on one special evening.

When on some future rainy day, you are tempted to stay home with yourself, please do so. Make it a day without electronic stimulation,-- no music, no internet, no television, no ‘news’.   Make it a day of reading inspiring books, writing notes to yourself, or to friends, and simply listening to the rain and the silence. 

Rain refreshes all of nature.  Listening to rain may refresh your soul.  

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