Monks lead very busy lives.
6 a.m.: Matins
5 p.m.: Vespers
7:40 p.m.: Compline
In between those services, they are busy making delicious meals (the other CIA (Culinary Institute of America) is right across the river; apparently one of the monks is an escapee from there); working in their garden; or making incense (which is how they make their living).
There are worse ways to live.
So that was my schedule for Saturday and Sunday, plus attending a talk by our retreat leader (if you wished).
I'll tell you: it was hard getting any running in with all that going on. So here's what I did: I woke up at 5:15 a.m. on Saturday (it's really dark out at 5:15, just FYI). I believe the temperature was oh, around 5 degrees. Maybe. Did I have running tights with me? I did not. Do I own running tights? I do not. I did, however, bring long white, silk underwear with me since I heard it might be chilly. So I put those on, with my royal blue running shorts over them, added a dri-max t-shirt, topped with a dri-max (white) turtleneck, plus green gloves and a lovely plaid scarf ... I looked like ... a freak? Whatever. Turns out not all that many people are up at 5:30 a.m. Except the monks, and they were busy.
So, I trotted up the monastery driveway to the main highway in West Park, New York, and decided to run for just 45 minutes (the schedule called for a 3-mile run, but I had no way to tell miles).
It's amazing how running, combined with utter terror of pitch blackness, which was only occasionally lifted by the lights of giant 18-wheelers flying past about 10 inches from your nose, along with the fear of the bears that probably lived in the woods aligning both sides of the road ... well, it's amazing how all of that can combine to kinda warm you up, real fast. My heart was pounding before I even put one foot in front of the other.
Once the sun came up, it wasn't so bad:
And in fact, it was fantastic.
As was being silent. Except for the fact that the older woman I drove up with kept hunting me down throughout the weekend to tell me such things as where I could hang my coat (on the coat hanger), or ask me if I'd seen the dog (I had), or try to tell me about last year's retreat. It got to the point that I started ducking her. I guess she was lonely; but damnit, I was there for silence! And, please tell me, why would you go to a silent retreat, and bring your laptop, like one guy did? WHY??
The monks belong to an initiative called "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (caution: a bell will ring), in which religious organizations toll their bells whenever there is a public execution. On Friday night, they told us about this organization, and said there had been an execution that day (I think in North Carolina), and then they tolled their bells for the prisoner, the executioner , and the victim(s). That was very cool.
It was odd walking past people, nodding to them, but not talking. Or sitting through meals, and not talking. Odd, but very freeing, because? No b.s. allowed. No stress of making small talk with strangers. (Am I anti-social?? hmmm.) At lunch, one of the monks reads aloud; they were in the middle of a Bill Bryson book. Meals were taken in a room overlooking the Hudson River.
Like I said: there are worse ways to live.
So, yeah, running:
I am following Hal Higdon's novice 0-10k plan, trying to teach myself how to run. Yeah, yeah, it's kinda funny, ha ha. Just ran a marathon, now I have to learn how to run 2.5 miles. Legs like lead, huffing and puffing. Tell me please, if I stay with this, will it get any easier?? I know it's not supposed to be easy, but easier?
This morning: 2.5 miles (that's what the schedule said!) in 26:47 minutes.
I will give me this; I'm persistent.