17 Degrees

I have inscribed the happy memory of you on the tablet of my heart.
~Clare of Assisi

Thursday morning I woke at 3:30 a.m., thinking about my family. I’m worried for them. In a healthy way though – better to care and to worry, than to not worry and not care, right?

I stayed in bed for a while, then remembered that I had some magnesium in the kitchen that I had forgotten to take with dinner. (If you ever have trouble sleeping, magnesium + healthy snack + 15 minutes often does the trick – it’s better than melatonin for me.) I shuffled down the hall, cut into a banana and ate it while looking at the stars. With only a sliver moon, it was a great night for stargazing.

This morning, my alarm chimed its soothing bells at 6:30. No joke, they really are soothing. Someone must have told the Droid software folks that their former standard alarm choices – among them a rooster so loud it almost gave me a heart attack, an oldskool & annoying electronic alarm beep, and a series of three beeps – were God awful.

Can I write that while staying in a monastery? It doesn’t seem right. Hopefully the sisters will forgive me.

Letters from St. Clare’s
I had a mission: Find the mailbox. Last night, while watching the sun set, I had written three letters: One to my husband, one for my sister and one to my friend Tara. Each has a quote from Clare of Assisi, the one that began this post.

But I never do anything on an empty stomach. After a bowl of hot oatmeal with walnuts and sliced banana, I bundled up, grabbed my letters and headed out into the darkness, thinking there might be a mailbox about a quarter-mile away at the bottom of the monastery’s drive.

The deer saw me first. It was too dark for me to see much of them. They were grazing on one side of the road in the darkness. One raised her white tail and leaped away, silently landing and leaping across the asphalt drive. How are they so silent?

Another crashed back into the woods. It was weird – not being able to see them unless they lifted their tails, even though they were only 15 or 20 feet away.

At the bottom of the drive, drivers passed by on their morning commute. I looked up and through an opening in the trees saw a bowl of stars. The constellations – which at 3:30 a.m. were outside my living room window in the eastern sky – were now on a tilted angle south of the monastery, soon to fall out of sight as we spun toward the morning sun.

I looked for Orion, whom I had seen the first night here through my living room window. I found one of the dippers, but without a star guide wasn’t sure where Orion might be. My husband is coming later today, so I asked him to bring one.

The forecast tonight is for rain, but if mother nature holds her tears until 7 or 8 o’clock, I’ll have a winter sky lesson tonight.

Surburban Silence, 8 a.m., 17 Degrees
I attended morning prayer, where Sister Ann kindly guided me through the service. Afterwards, as the sun rose, I took a short hike past the stations of the cross to meditate on a northeast-facing bench, in solidarity with Stacy Sims and my City Silence friends, who were also meditating, but at the Contemporary Arts Center.

My mind was quiet, but it was 17 degrees so I grew cold and restless after a few minutes. I walked up the path, then off the path, to the broken bench I’d found yesterday. This bench faced the rising sun directly.

I closed my eyes and listened to the birds chirp and the city hum.

Meditation bench in the pathless woods.

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