This past Friday and Saturday I spent an overnight at a Franciscan center that "exhibits prayerful solitude and an opportunity for God to heal, nourish and restore God's people to health in body, soul and spirit."
The picture is one of 17 hermitages at Pacem in Terris just outside St. Francis, Minnesota.They are simple, one-room cabins with a bed, rocking chair, and end table. Gas lamps provide lighting as well as water and basins for washing up and a cookstove to make tea or instant coffee.The food is a basket of bread, cheese and fruit. Since it is a silent retreat and a time of reflection and prayer one is asked not to bring cell-phones, walkmans, radios, etc. unless absolutely necessary. It is considered a silent retreat so there is no conversation while on the trails and walking paths.There are 180 acres, most of it woodland with seven acres of tall-grass prairie in the center with trails that meander through the grass and trees to explore and enjoy. They have a main lodge that has bathrooms with showers and a small library. There are offices and a chapel on the main level along with a large living space with fireplace and tables where they provide a Friday evening meal. Conversation is encouraged.
I enjoyed it for the most part except for the very, very cold outhouse seat! It is hard to separate oneself from the outside world and going to bed at 9:00 due to the darkening sky and nothing else to do but read was difficult. Michael stopped in around 8:30 to say goodnight and see how things were going for me as it was my first time.
The next day was much better mostly due to the great weather we had. They have paths everywhere to explore one that leads out to a lake. Even though frozen this time of year, it was enjoyable. I saw and heard wild turkeys, sandhill cranes, and saw numerous beaver dams and many small birds.
The highlight was after dark when I stepped out into a moonless night and saw thousands upon thousands of stars filling the night sky. It reminded me how glorious His creation is and how much He loves us knowing that He created all of this just for us to behold. Wow!