Passing Notes (Retreating into Silence, post 9 of 10)
In this silent retreat, apart from the optional group shares, we aim to respect the offering of silence. However, it is not frowned upon if someone needs to pass a note to a fellow retreater with a message of importance to communicate. (On certain types of retreats, however, this would be against the code of conduct.)
Although I did not engage in frequent note passing, at one point, a woman penned me a note. I looked at it, and at her, in a bit of surprise. Although her yoga mat and cushion were positioned directly next to me the entire week, we hadn’t seen much of each other. We didn’t cross paths walking to or from the pond. I don’t believe we sat near each other in the dining hall. I hadn’t quite registered her presence (which probably sounds far ruder than I intend).
I peeked at the note. I didn’t have time to anticipate what it could say, but certainly I didn’t expect to find the question that she had asked me.
“Are you a writer?” the note began.
And certainly, I didn’t expect the remark that followed to touch me so deeply.
“Are you a writer? You have a gift.”
I didn’t write back. I may have touched my hands to my heart, a gesture of gratitude.
After the silent part of our Silent Retreat had concluded (just before our final meal together on the final day), this woman embraced me in the dining hall. “Are you a writer?” she asked again, verbally this time.
A bit flustered, I was unsure how to respond. "I suppose not in the sense that you’re asking. I love to write. But I’m not… a writer."
"Well, you need to change that. People need to hear your voice. I loved hearing what you shared from your journal. So beautiful."
For someone who always has the right words, I had none in response. I hugged her. And I hugged this idea closely, this seed that was planted, by way of a passed note, from a total stranger. A stranger next to whom I had spent the better part of six days, cushion to cushion, in silence.