Mountain Retreat

I’m off to the mountains again this week. Two years ago I made my first solitary retreat in this remote destination, with some fear at the outset about being alone where there is no phone, and few people around. But the fear was gone the moment I walked through the cabin door and the reality of God’s presence came freshly on me. Why had I been talking about being alone up there, when it was really God and I together for a few days? And it did end up being best kind of retreat and rejuvenation of the spirit, by the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps this time I will spend more time at night looking at the stars. That other outing it was late September and almost too cold for it at that high elevation. There are none of men’s lights to interfere; I’ll put on my glasses and lie on my back on the deck. I remember how the sight of those uncountable stars filled me with awe for God, and with God Himself, so much that I couldn’t bear it for long.

Maybe I was unconsciously “thinking” ahead when I posted that poem and thoughts about night recently. I’ve been looking forward to the time for reading and prayer, and now that I start writing I’m reminded to anticipate the joy of the dark and starry night as well.

Our civilization has fallen out of touch with night.
With lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to the forests and the sea;
the little villages, the crossroads even, will have none of it.
Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of night?
Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space,
the austerity of stars?
–Henry Beston


But back to the bookish part of the opportunity. The process of preparing for the trip by choosing my reading material (and even the food to bring, I might add) is a sort of pre-retreat. I know I won’t be able to fully mine any of the treasure-troves that this list represents, but if I left one at home, it would surely be the one I’d want to dip into, right? In addition to a couple of the history or literature books from on my sidebar list, I’m taking these spiritually meaty ones.

Books for a Mountain Getaway:
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Michael Pomazansky
The Inner Kingdom by Kallistos Ware
Little Russian Philokalia Vol. 1 by St. Seraphim
Courage to Pray by Anthony Bloom
On Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony

Well, I’m going on my adventure, and pray God will bring me home to tell about it. If not, you’ll all know that it really was unbearably glorious!

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