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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

24 Hours of Solitude

I just returned from 24 hours at one of my favorite places on earth: Santa Sabina, where silence and solitude are the order of the day. I started going there seventeen years ago, when I was studying calligraphy and the Friends of Calligraphy held their annual retreat there. I was enchanted by the beautiful garden courtyard, the huge quiet room called the Scriptorium, the smell of ink, the hush of thick handmade paper. I felt like a monk there, in my small cell-like room. It was breathtakingly beautiful and solemn. I found out that Santa Sabina welcomes private retreatants once a month, during their Weeks of Prayer.

I remembered this years later, when I had a one year old baby, and I longed for quiet, and sleep, and a place to write. I reserved 24 hours retreat and drove to Santa Sabina with my Mac Plus packed into its cube-shaped, padded case. I took a dozen books, and my favorite pillow. I slipped into my plain little room with its sink (and hidden mirror) and wardrobe that seemed as magical as the one that led to Narnia. I was alone! for the first time in a year. I drank up every minute, blissed out. I wrote a little, I read a little; I took a nap. I swam in the silence.

Since then, I have taken six-hour retreats, six day retreats, overnights and weekends. This place has become my beloved home, home of my muse, home of peace, home of more writing than I ever do in my real home. (one of the secrets is the lack of wireless Internet; although there is a dialup connection in one shared room downstairs) I've gone on my own, but I'm happiest when there is a writer friend in the cell next to mine, and I can hear the very faint tapping of their keyboards. We emerge to share a cup of tea, or to sit in the garden, or of it's a long retreat, to catch a dinner in town.

Yesterday, I did what I always do. I walked in the garden. I read a little. I took a little nap. I wrote. I visit with a friend. When I came home, even after this short short time away, I felt rejuvenated, loving, generous. I made a big pot of homemade chicken soup for my daughter. These are things that come less readily when I've been home too long, immersed in work and daily tasks, errands, carpools.

I've made it a vow to return for as many Prayer Weeks as possible. (and it is my belief that writing is a form of prayer) I'd welcome company.

So: next upcoming Weeks of Prayer where they accept "private retreatants" are: February 15, March 1, April 12 and May 17. Those are all Wednesdays, and they take private individuals from Mon-Thursdays. Let me know if you're up for some heavenly solitude. I might try to go each time except for April 12th.


Blogger C(h)ristine said...

that sounds wonderful!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 8:46:00 PM

Blogger Bustopher Jones said...

Sounds heavenly! I want to go!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 12:43:00 AM

Blogger melanie said...

ditto here...it sounds and looks beautiful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 10:50:00 AM

Blogger gayle said...

Oh, Susan, I would love to spend more time at Santa Sabina with you. What a pleasure. I'm so glad you have a chance to dip into that wonderful Santa Sabina energy on a regular basis. I hope to get up there again soon...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 11:06:00 AM

Blogger Libby said...

Thanks for the pictures, too, Susan. It looks and sounds wonderful. I hope I can join you there one day.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 6:43:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...

I hope you can ALL come. It's truly a piece of heaven.

So the next Prayer Week is the week of Feb 15th. Now that I have classes on Wednesdays it puts a little crimp in being able to spend multiple days (plus, how can I miss kickboxing on Tuesdays?) but I'm thinking of doing another 24 hour stint from Monday-Tuesday afternoon, Feb 13 to 14. Anyone up for joining me?

Friday, January 27, 2006 7:17:00 AM


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