Post-Easter 2023: Transformative Silence

One of the most challenging parts of the solitary hermit life is when the holidays roll around. Even though I grew up as an only child in a small family, Christmas and Easter were always a big deal, faith-centered more than action-oriented primarily because we lived abroad and far away from any immediate relatives. Mommy Christmas dinners or Easter brunches were a production more than just another meal, and it was only much later in life did I incorporate traveling during Holy Week into my lifestyle.

In a way, I miss being part of a faith community, a congregation, especially during the Paschal Triduum, serving the community during the three holiest days for Catholics. Nevertheless, I chose my present lifestyle consciously and have no regrets. But when people in my social circle are celebrating with friends and family, the silence and solitude become deafening.

This was my second Easter in Portugal, and the second that I spent alone. Last year I had barely moved to Villa Franca de Xira, worked on Good Friday, and was pretty much confined to my room in the shared flat I was staying in, hoping that the following Easter I would find myself in much better conditions. The only sign of Easter was the chocolate Lindt bunny that I got from the supermarket, and a small packet of chocolate-covered almonds that I placed in a little corner. Well, a year has passed and indeed, I had a beautiful silent, prayerful and meditative Paschal Triduum. The house was brightened by flowers from both the garden and the surrounding fields, and I cooked and baked special meals for myself. Yes, I was definitely in a much better situation than the previous year, no doubt about it.

Was the silence by choice or by circumstance? Both, actually and I struggled between the desire for the solitude of prayer and need to be surrounded by family, envious and melancholic that everyone I knew had family or a loved one to celebrate with. But given that my daughter recently moved to Valencia and is battling with assorted relocation issues at present, spending Easter together this year was not in the stars. So silence it was, but look at the colours I was blessed with!

There was a time when I spent Easter on silent retreat with the Jesuits in South India, which was one of the most powerful experiences in my spiritual life. Silent retreats are not something that appeal to everyone, and I will be the first to admit that it takes practice and discipline to be able to withdraw from the world and not speak to another human being for three days. But when you are able to reach deep into your soul and harness your prayerful solitude onto the transformative power of silence, it equips you with courage and faith to face any storm.

I took time off from work, originally intending to dedicate it to writing. Then last month, when I began working in the garden I figured I would dedicate part of the holidays to the garden as well. But as the old adage goes, sometimes the best laid plans go awry. Yes, the pull to the garden was strong, but I didn’t want to spend all my time working in it either, and wanted to simply kick back and relax. I found myself descending the stairs every afternoon and being greeted by the strong scent of orange blossoms the and the myriad of other flowers in the garden that are currently blooming. The fig tree has sprouted fresh new leaves, forming a wonderful natural canopy over the sitting area, which I refer to as my Celtic living room now, and it is magical to simply sit there in silence and be in the moment. The walnut tree is proudly bursting with new leaves as well, and in a few weeks, it too will add to the canopy, but for the time being, it presents a dramatic frame that I love watching from below or from the kitchen window. All the neighbourhood cats have found solace in the garden, and now that the branches have been trimmed back, it is no longer uncommon to find a cat or two perched in the trees!

So here I am, the day after the Easter weekend, relaxed and rejuvenated, on the one hand, but feeling guilty that I did not meet my writing goals. Instead, I indulged nourishing my mental health, being kind to myself. In order to be the strong creative writer, I first had to unload all the extraneous emotions and mental baggage that was weighing me down. It was time, once and for all, to close the door on certain things and take stock of who and what really matters. As in previous spiritual retreats, photography was my form of visual prayer, and this resulted in a single photograph that sums it all up in two words: simple abundance.

Easter Abundance ©FrogDiva Photography

I chose this solitary life for a reason, and like every new phase in life, there are adjustment pains and sacrifices to be made for attaining that desired goal. Tenacity , discipline, and patience – not to mention a host of eager cats – keep me on the right path. Every once in a while I stumble and falter in my step but I have the best teachers of the universe to remind me that you don’t need words to transform.

Related Entries:

A Nikonic Easter (Easter 2022)

Tranquilamente: Simple Saturday Pleasures

To Catch A Train

The Facebook Betrayal 2021 (Easter 2021)

Easter 2020: Contagion of Hope

Lolita Bonita: 1st Adoptiversary (Easter 2019)

Resurrection, Redemption, and a Year (Easter 2018)

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