Saturday, May 23, 2009

Retreat Day Two



I was awake for Vigil but too warm and cozy to get up. Then I slept right up to the time when the bells for Lauds rang. I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes and looked in the mirror and scared myself.

Awk! No time for hair fixing, so I grabbed a hair elastic and put my hair in a pony tail and put on my baseball cap.

As retreatants, we are allowed to sit in the stalls, like the monks, only way, way, way in the back. It's a long church. The altar is way up there away from us.

As I sat and watched the monks come in through the door, one old monk did a double take when he saw me. He pointed to my hat. At first I thought he was telling me that he liked my Red Sox baseball cap. But he motioned for me to take it off. TAKE IT OFF!

OH NO. :-( It's not that my hair was ugly; it's that I am ugly like that. Remember that I had Cronkhite Canada Syndrome and my hair didn't grow back like it was before. I am bald on the sides of my head. My hair grows only on the top of my head, so I just wear it down, or cover my head with a scarf, or hat. Now I had to take my hat off. Why?

I don't know why, but I obeyed. A thousand things ran through my mind: am I breaking some rule that no hats are allowed, men or women's, is it the type of hat I'm wearing that's objectionable, am I showing lack of respect..........why?

So I sat there, bald, wispy head sticking out like an old plucked chicken. I was embarrassed.

It gets worse.

At Communion, the priest didn't come down to us; we had to walk all the way up to him. Remember the monks, about 50 of them, are sitting in stalls gawking at we visitors. I felt like I was walking through a gauntlet of inspecting eyes. To add another humiliation to the pile, I happened to be last. As I walked behind everyone else, I could feel my red face travel all the way to my neck. The back of my neck burned.

It was not a good Communion. I could not take my mind off myself. I did offer my misery up.

This ordeal bothered me all day. Immediately after lunch, I had acid reflex. I was in pain. I tried to pray it away, ignore it, take anti acid medicine, but nothing worked. I couldn't attend None, or Vespers. I didn't eat Supper, and I was asleep by Compline.

One picture is the Abbey Church and the other is the long cloister walk to our stalls in the back. The church is large, cold, dark, and dreary. As far as I was concerned, the church atmosphere, added to my mood. Despairing is all I could think of.

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