The Perfect Room, the Perfect Book
You could call it coincidence or synchronicity depending on your view of life.
Here's what happened:
A couple of years ago, a retired minister, Mahan Siler, came to a week-long writing retreat I led at Doe Branch Ink in the NC mountains. Such a thinker and writer is he that I was very flattered he chose to come. He brought along a book he thought I'd be interested in: The Wisdom Way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgeault. An Episcopal priest, she writes in this book about Hindu/Buddhist spiritual matters (kundalini awakening) crucial in my novel Cobalt Blue.
I loved the Bourgeault book. Mahan sent me a copy of my own when I got back home. It influenced my meditation heavily for a more than a year.
Then last weekend, the writing group I've been in for 30.5 years, led by Laurel Goldman, went on a retreat together for the first time. We arrived on Friday to spend three nights at Cedar Cross Retreat Center in deep woods about an hour or so north of Raleigh. Another writer, Angela Davis-Gardner, and I were the first to arrive and pick out our rooms. I knew which one I had to have the instant I saw it.
It was a slight variation on an imagined room that I've often pictured myself in for almost 40 years. The difference: the pillow was supposed to be at the other end of the bed. Plus, the imagined room had only one window. The real room was much better.
I dumped my stuff there, staking claim, and then noticed the one book in the room. It was by Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening. I was thrilled to see it there.
I finished it about 3 a.m. on the last night of our wonderful three days there. By the end of the first day, it had already again altered my meditation. I felt as if I had found something new and huge.
John and Margaret Hilpert who run Cedar Cross and live there say that the three things most often mentioned as spiritually affecting there are: the labyrinth, the stations of the cross experience (a woodland site which I never did get to) and the exceptionally loveable house dog, Isaac. (You don't have to be Christian or religious to stay there.)
Isaac was as sweet as any living creature could be. And the rest of the weekend was wonderful. And the uncanny finding of that book and what I found in it changed me.
How? With the shock of its arrival and the way the meditation/prayer described in its pages opened an interior space different than I'd known before.
This afternoon, four days after my return, a client/friend came by my office. She mentioned a book she'd been reading. Who wrote it? That same "hermit priest."
Tags: Angela Davis-Gardner, Cedar Cross, Cedar Cross Retreat, Centering Prayer, Centering prayer and Inner Awakening, Cobalt Blue, Cynthia Bourgeault, Doe Branch, Doe Branch Ink, John and Margaret Hilpert, Laurel Goldman, Mahan Siler