Sunday, June 24, 2012


A single leaf in the lake along La Ferme de Villefavard, Limousin, France.
Whenever I go on retreat, like I am now, before I leave, I get endless questions about what is it like to be in silence for an extended period of time with others. It's ironic to answer with words, since the experience of silence is so wordless itself. And yet, it's a legitimate question. So I'll try to say something about my experiences with it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Reflective Rotterdam

Rotterdam, like Amsterdam, is easily half water.

When the weather is right - partly cloudy and later in the afternoon or earlier in the morning - you can easily capture pictures like this. They wait as if you are a fisherman and they are the fish.

I've been doing a lot of walking. The first few days, we walked everywhere to see everything. The next few days I walked everywhere simply to be walking. Though it is often overcast and partially rainy, it's almost never too severe to make for an unpleasant walk.

Because the young woman I brought with me, Stefanie, has been in the hospital with a complication from her Type 1 Diabetes, I've been afloat - pun intended and also double meaning intended fully - the last few days, since Sunday. Though we've extended our stay in Rotterdam (with our gracious hostesses), she'll be in the hospital until tomorrow afternoon, and we will leave for London on Friday morning. This means she's seen no more of the city than she did before falling ill on Sunday; I've seen a lot more, often, on my own, walking.

I like being a stranger somewhere. I like even more, honestly, not knowing a language and being a stranger somewhere. There's no pressure to understand. I have a sensation - again - of being afloat, as if I am neither home nor here. For the long term I would find this disturbing, but for now, it's a relief - spacious and open. As if I am in the Oude Haven - Old Harbor - back to the bottom, face to the feckless clouds.

When you look at me, sometimes you see right through me. When you look at me, sometimes you see yourself in me. When you look at me, sometimes all you see is me.