Greetings from Nada Carmelite Hermitage in beautiful Crestone, Colorado! I am so very much enjoying my retreat.
It rained for the first day or two, but we need to especially pray for the people of Jamestown, Boulder, Longmont and even Greeley, who have had serious flooding issues.
Here in Crestone, the altitude is 8,000 feet. Several 14ers are behind me, and the San Luis Valley stretches before me. I can see mountains 50 miles to the west, and the Great Sand Dunes are just eight miles away. Deer, rabbits and those little stripy chipmunk things walk around like they own the place. And they do! I’m able to take long walks in the 100-acre property, but it’s been too muddy up in the mountains to do any serious hiking.
The spiritual emphasis here is on silence and solitude, so I’m in a cozy “hermitage” cabin far from anyone else. I guess this week, I’m a hermit! Only in the main building library is there internet access. But I’m spending most of my time in the cabin, writing.
I’ve attended morning and evening prayer in the chapel, as well as Benediction, a uniquely Catholic ceremony venerating the Communion Host. Most of it was sung in Latin, which was pretty interesting.
Tomorrow, I will attend the Carmelite (named after Mt. Carmel in the Holy Land, not after a founding saint) community’s Sunday service, which apparently draws a lot of people from the local community.
So far in the past two days I’ve written about 7,000 words of my novel’s first draft. It seems like a lot to me, but then I realize the completed manuscript will be about 80-100,000 words, and part of me wants to go back to writing short children’s plays.
I love the process of writing, though. It’s a kind of prayerful activity for me, and since the book is religious historical fiction, a lot of my practical theology is finding its way onto the page (along with my warped sense of humor). I can’t wait to see how it turns out!