|empty hallway at the Jesuit Center|
As I read Buechner those first 30 hours, I was more alone than normal. Time at The Jesuit Center is not alone time, even if it is silent. There is daily mass, daily meals, and people staying in rooms along the wing of the building you have been placed. I didn't even have my hour long discussions with a spiritual director during this retreat.
But the Jesuit Center was emerging from a quiet time itself and no retreats were happening when I arrived. The dining hall was nearly empty that first evening, but I did have a brief conversation with a young woman who had just gained employment there. Nothing like an exuberant person to make one's day. She got a hand drawn card.
For the first three nights I was alone on my wing. Until the large retreat arrived, my main company was a cleaning lady. I drew her a bookmark. The next day we had a brief conversation about irises, since she saw some in my doodle. I could see why and I was glad to remind her of flowers of her homeland. This was a woman I have seen working at the Center for at least ten years and in a conversation the next day I found out she was from Romania. I left her a card sitting on the desk in my room when I left.
I made a few trips to the library and I actually met the librarian, who happened to have a medium sized aloe plant flat upon her desk. Clearly a sign from God to have a brief conversation after which she guided me to the book I desired. A card was slipped into her office.
maybe this post should have had cards in the title, but it was those brief conversations that filled in for the missing my usual time with a spiritual director. My inner Iggy was just fine with being silent 99% of my visit.