In my introductory talk at this clergy retreat I compared fasting from social media – which people suggest – with fasting from electricity etc. which no one seems to suggest. I was reminded immediately afterwards that Carl Jung used to both practise and preach this as a way of re-connecting with basic reality. It’s an extremely interesting point. Though I am glad we are using electricity and heating here at the moment.
The cold continues, though not as ferociously. I went for a walk along the local river yesterday. Literally along the centre of the river. Although the sun warmed my back the ground has never felt more solid beneath my feet. I wondered whether the water here has forgotten about fluidity, or whether it has a nostalgia for its former liquidity.
I’ve heard the phrase ‘God’s frozen people’ before, and used to think it meant frosty, lacking warmth. Now I think it means – no longer able to flow. (That’s not a comment on the good clergy I am gathered with here – more a refection on the reaches of that critical metaphor, wherever it applies.)
One of the wonderful things about a silent retreat is that it involves getting to know people just by being with them. It is, of course, a bit frustrating not to be able to have a chat or discuss issues arising from the input and so on, and for that reason we had a break from silence yesterday. It included what I grandly called a ‘workshop’ but it it was more like a ‘talkshop’ – a place of refuge from silence for extraverts and also of talking through some of the many issues connected with the spirituality of time, which is our theme.
I was delighted to learn briefly from one of the clergy here who told me about a year he spent ‘off-line’. That is, he lived for a year without electricity, somewhere on the prairies around here.
It was clearly arduous. Much effort needed to it into the basics of life – like providing water – and in the winter that meant melting snow. It also involved a lot of gardening and harvesting when the ground was not frozen.
As he spoke to me about it I could feel the energy and delight flowing from him. It was tough but it was wonderful and, he addd: ‘I had so much more time.’
I asked him if he planned to do it again, ever. ‘Definitely’, was the smiling answer.