An Experiment in Stillness

If I had a blog, today I would write about my grand experiment in quietude.

Hermann, Missouri

Hermann, Missouri

It has been more than a decade since I’ve gone on a retreat by myself, with no other goal than to rest. Today I’ve broken this unhealthy trend and am sitting on a king-sized sleigh-bed, watching the sun go down over acres of vineyards and inns sprinkled with snow-white church steeples. A fire is blazing in my fireplace and I am sipping a superb dry Merlot. This is the life.

The Vineyard

The Vineyard

Although my taste of wine-country is happening in Missouri, not Provence or Tuscany, this little corner of Heaven makes me feel as though I am in a far-away land. The place where I am staying is called Hermann Hill Vineyard and Inn. It sits atop a high hill overlooking the Missouri River Valley and the quaint Germanic town of Hermann. If a person time-warped into Hermann without GPS, you would feel certain you were in Germany’s Rhineland. Rolling hills, tall brick homes, and sprawling vineyards make it very hard to think “Missouri.”

Quiet Time

Quiet Time

The remarkable thing about my vacation so far is rediscovering the point of a vacation: To do as little as possible. I realize some people need constant action to stay sane, but I am not one of those people. I go, go, go, but that isn’t my default condition. I need down time; all-the-way-down time and I didn’t even know it. I planned this trip around hiking and (with a little luck) getting some photos of the bald eagles that sometimes winter along the Missouri River and while I may do those things, I’m not going to push it. If laying around watching favorite movies or reading a good book sounds better, I’m going to risk public opinion and do it.

I make light of this, but think about it: Could you go on a trip and feel good doing nothing? Would you return home full of energy and self-esteem if you all you had to report was how the light changed across the countryside as seen from your veranda? It’s a sad state of affairs when society expects us to accomplish something even when we are (theoretically) getting away from it all. It’s time for a change.

Good Night Wine Country

Good Night Wine Country

We’ll see how it goes, but for the next 36 hours I am going to listen to my Inner Being and if She says, “Rest,” I’m going to rest. It’s a little scary, but I think I am up to the task. Ooh! My complimentary ice cream and warm cookie are here. I think this is going to work.

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