Friday, April 19, 2019
Hey, You …
I went to a Silent Retreat.
Yep, you read it right.
I went to a weekend retreat where I was silent from sun-up until the evening yoga class I led at 5PM.
The location was glorious. We were in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by the Shendoah Valley. The retreat center is a repurposed barn and had a cozy, home feeling. There was enough space for everyone to be quiet around each other, which I didn’t realize was a thing.
And, my personal highlight was the most handsome, blue tail-feathered, badass, loud-mouthed rooster, Vincenzo, Vinny for short, who pranced around the place, daring you to look at him.
I went to the retreat knowing it wouldn’t be hard for me to be silent. Even with all of my expression, all of the “loud” I know I have and am, being silent is not difficult for me. I am, after all, a writer, and this is the most solitary, the lonliest endeavor one could undertake.
No, being silent was easy.
What I surprisingly found difficult was other people not talking to me!
I’m going to have to do a deep dive on that one, y’all.
Maybe it’s because I was raised around so much noise. I mean … I like the noise (in case Caridad Montero is reading).
Maybe it’s because being acknowledged, out loud, feeds me in ways I wasn’t conscious of, until then.
Sure, we, the attendees and I, met eyes and smiled at each other … sometimes. One of them and me even adopted a secret code, communicating in eyerolls, winks, smiles and such.
But not hearing someone say, “Good morning!” “Hi, María Elena!” “Hey, girl!”
That was hard.
I think I was longing to hear the exclamation point. I was waiting to hear the timbre rise at, Elena.
For three days, what I got instead was being surrounded by beauty, demanding to be experienced, seen, felt; and, undisturbed, all at the same time. Not the least of which was human beings, in their own bodies, moving in their own spaces, doing their own things, not speaking, not being spoken to. And, existing just fine, anyway.
In fact, thriving … because of it.
Because of the opportunity to be still. Not having to plan any part of the day, unless you wanted to participate in this or that or eat.
I left the retreat feeling more alive than before, even after I’d been primarily silent. One of the attendees said she could almost see battery indicators floating over our heads filling up to 100% as the weekend progressed.
I just hadn’t realized I was close to 0%.
I wish I could tell you I came out of silence every evening with grace and control. Testing the the air with whispers before I let it rip.
I already told you I led the evening yoga classes, and my classes featured dance breaks.
And there was the bounty of Good morning! All my Hi, María Elena! And, Hey, girl!
All the conversation I had to have was right there, in beautiful smiles, in joyous dance moves, in arms up high moving to the rhythm. In just being there, together, enjoying our own spaces and spaces others share with us.
Why was I – why am I – pressed to hear a voice, outside myself, confirm the same? Like I said, I’m going to have to deep dive that one, family.
In the meantime, you’ll find me dancing, smiling, arms up high, and making like the most handsome rooster on Earth.
And, that’s enough.
 By the way, the chef was off the chain. She was an old skool hippie and had us in stitches when quiet time was over. Off. The. Chain. Or, as she would say, “Off the f***ing chain.”