Preparing for Retreat


I’m going on a retreat soon, lead a wonderful and very animated Buddhist teacher, Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel (her book is The Power of an Open Question). This is not a silent retreat (many that I attend are in full silence), and it is not residential. I will go home every evening, and return in the morning. It’s an interesting process to go in and out, in and out. And it affords the opportunity to observe how I shift in awareness throughout the process; awakening to a larger possibility of focused intention regardless of where I am.

I have read David Whyte’s poetry for many years now. His words never cease to inspire me, to encourage me dig more deeply into my soul and discover what is “real” for me as opposed to what I’ve simply “invented” about my life. This particular quote was featured in a blog I came across, and, one more time, it catches my breath and quiets the busy-ness inside. It is the perfect reflection upon which to enter retreat.

The text of his full poem, Sweet Darkness is below:

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

 — David Whyte
from The House of Belonging 
©1996 Many Rivers Press

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