Sunday, February 05, 2006

Loretto - New and Old

I've been going to the same Writer's Retreat for seven years now - that's fifteen retreats since we go twice a year (we, being a group of six women writers). The setting was Niagara Falls at the Loretto centre, run by the Loretto Sisters. The centre was recently put up for sale, and our treks to the Falls were suddenly over. There are so many things I miss about Loretto - but I'm only going to mention a few, and ask my fellow retreaters that visit this blog to do the same (and others, too, who would like to comment!). I miss pulling the car off Stanley Ave and following the long road to that circular driveway, climbing up those steps leading to the big front door, and ringing the bell for the door to be opened to us - for us to say "we're here again!". And someone from inside to say with a smile of homecoming - "ah, the writers have arrived!" Such a sweet ritual, and when we stepped through the door, we entered into another life. The writer's life - contemplative, a gentle communion with my fellow writers and friends, but also a feverish time - the writing that got done and shared!

The second part of this blog posting is to comment upon our new retreat home - Maryholme - MaryHOME. Several times I heard during our first retreat there just a week ago, "It's not Loretto," and I felt myself saying the same. It's true, there will never be another "Loretto," but in some ways it WAS very much Loretto. The sisters' influence was felt in the simplicity of the furnishings and the vibe (this new site is also owned by the Loretto order). So, my friends, here's one thing that I loved about our new home in Keswick - being right on Lake Simcoe - lakeside property! Looking out the windows of that huge wraparound porch and seeing all those fishing huts and people out there on the frozen lake. Walking upon the lake myself!Writers need new experiences to stoke the creative fires. We need new adventures. My writer's fires have been stoked by MaryHolme...
-Marianne

24 comments:

netty said...

Me too, Marianne. My heart aches for the loss of what we had in Niagara Falls. It shudders when thinking they may tear the place down. Keep thinking about the chapel, the soulful fond. Keep seeing and sensing the wide staircases and hallways, that special feeling, being there. But we had it. We've been priviledged to live the experience. I once heard it say that it is good to be sad. It means that you had a good time. How much better than having to leave with, "Thank goodness, that is over!"

I miss 'my' room, I miss the swimming pool, I miss the presence of the Sisters, the dining together, the sound of the falls outside, the silence within...

But ah, yes, a place in my heart opened to Maryholme. Indeed the same Loretto athmosphere. I felt that peace. And the lake is awesome. I wish we could do a summer or fall too. But the way it is set up, it seems not feasable financially. I've been dreaming that we would get a reward for 14 faithful retreats, one free stay. Ah, nothing wrong with dreaming eh?

I am wondering how I would do in one of the smaller, darker rooms. I am not one who works well outside. Even trying to read outdoors I am too destracted. But seeing water and sky from my window inspires me to work. I know, I'm a bit weird. But I certainly will not let that stop me from trying it again. And I bet I find a way to make it work, and get as attached to Maryholme as I did to the great home above the Niagara Falls.

Marianne said...

Well, there's something to be said about cloistering -lololol! (Re: dark tiny rooms,entering the cave to meditate, etc.). Maybe this will simply be a conversation between you and me Netty! Someday, we'll have to take a drive to that "Grasshopper" hippy store on the way to Niagara Falls that we used to stop at... And talking about finding new places - sheesh - looks like we already have a "new" store that will become a regular in Keswick... so what's new is old again, huh?

netty said...

A visit to the hippy store will always be welcome for grasshopping around. It won't be a regular anymore like Keswick Giftshop is going to be, but it'd be nice to browse through the quite different merchandise and smell the sweet incense and have cool converstations with the staff, once in a while, or at least once more. It'd be neat for you and me to have a trip together and enjoy each others company. A special kind of fun.

I like the fireplace and the gathering quarters at Maryholme. All the good books. Feeling tempted to sit on the stairs and browse through the book cases and read. They have a bigger variety of reading material then at the Falls. I really got myself lost in that photo book of the wetlands and the descriptions. It was for me like being there.

Feminity, love of nature, care for the environment, making big effords toward it, mark both retreats. In that area we won't be missing out, and can be involved. It's satisfying to be part of the Loretto spirit. The more we can strengthen that, the wider it will spread. Maybe overcoming the destruction of casinos can be slowly counteracted and overcome with simple but positive spirit building.

I still think about what sister Ivonne said, that many religious centres are closing. There is change in the air. If you've done all you can to preserve what you have, and it is not working, it must be that God has a different plan and we need to follow a new route.

Call it god, call it life, call it universe, call it unconcious, subconcious, super concious, synchronicity, something stirrs us, and when we listen, chances are that we are presented with the right route to follow.

BB said...

sorry I can't comment too much because it is a gal's only club very exclusive bunch. I could make a sign and march around the retreat with a sign. I am not sure what the sign would say as yet. I will have to think about it.

bb said...

I will think about what the sign would say and be back to you before the week is out....

BB said...

Still thinking about a sign

Larry Keiler said...

How bout:

Down with Up!

Nun-sense said...

How about, we'll have nun of it...

Larry Keiler said...

that's just about how much the inuit got.

Larry Keiler said...

hey, bb, Larry doesn't exactly remember for sure, but he thinks that He Who Shall Not Be Named (hereafter known as HWSNBN) once actually received an invitation to the infamous nunnery. ah...doves in nighties sipping wine...nuns in the sacristy sipping wine...secretly...the distant roar of sacrificial lambs slipping over the edge of the Falls...Mme Tussaud's wax museum glowing luridly in the misty dark...the maid of the mist, the statue in the courtyard, the soft murmuring of cloistered priests crouching in the larder, craving redemption...the ghost of Dylan Thomas hollering in the folderol for Old Crow and a fine cigar...

HWSNBN couldn't go, Larry thinks...

a dental appointment or something...

Larry Keiler said...

too many ings in that last post
ing

w.t. said...

Dental appointment? I thought HWSNBN was Octoberfest bound. Playing, singing, humpaing, dancing, drinking, laughing, accordioning,stomping, (his foot to the rhythm) regretting, (not being with the doves in nighties sipping wine)sighing,(thinking aboutit)fantasizing,(dreaming about it)hiccupping, winging it...

ingses are thingses with wingses
(dove)tailing our texts.

The sign could say: CASINOS SUCK

Xena said...

Hey Larry, we lost out to the DENTIST! Sheesh... you don't know what you missed, and now you'll never know! But then, Sister Helen would have kept you in line! If not her, then Sister Veronica, and Sister Dianne, and Sister Netty, and Sister Christine, and Sister Xena...

Lulu said...

Same for me as for BB and HWSNBN - I can't comment because I have not been to one of the magical retreats. No Sister Leslie to report on wide staircases or small dark rooms... I am still AWOL from retreating, not part of that flock, I am the sheep lost on the hillside, not finding my way.

How does that hymn go?

"There were 90 and 9 that safely lay in the shelter of the fold, but one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of gold, away on the mountain, wild and bare, away from the tender shepherd's care..."

That was my mother's favorite hymn. Wonder why she felt like a lost sheep? Maybe being lost runs in my family. I could be genetically lost, for all I know. Or maybe it is all about being an outsider, which was my mother's identity. She was a major outsider, a loner, an observer, a social critic, never joining, keeping her distance, refusing to answer the door, never belonging to any identified group, always apart.

Food for thought.

I should say that I have always been made to feel welcome to retreat when the time is right for me - by Sister Marianne, Sister Dianne, Sisters all. So I'm not really lost. Possibly hiding out. Not yet ready to come in from the cold.

Larry Keiler said...

Casinos suck?

Sister Neddy, Sister Neddy...did you go to casino while on retreat? RCs especially must have affinity for casinos, given their long association with parish bingo halls.

But the casino...ah, the casino...it's an otherworldly experience. Last summer Suzy Homemaker and I escaped the Yoni School for a brief moment and took a ride up country. Neustadt, the prettiest village in Canada, Paisley, Hanover.

We stopped into the tiny Hanover Slots because Suzy never been before...What a place! Fake palm trees and garish lights outside. (In the old days it would have been Girls! Girls! Girls!) A greeter at the door. Bathroom to the right.

You quickly enter into the inner sanctum, subdued lighting, patrons (mostly seniors) hunched like gargoyles over their personal torments. Machines clicking flashing spinning belching, the rattle of coinage, the crisp snap of bills.

But if you have ears, the first thing you notice is the drone. All the lights, all the machines, all the people coalesce into a single-pitched musical drone, and of course the pitch of that drone is in the key of money.

Money lost. Money squandered. Sometimes money won.

(One of the casinos in Winnipeg has an aquarium built into the ceiling. You walk into a tunnel and the fish swim over yer head. You come out of the tunnel, look to yer right, and there's a talking pirate robot. He doesn't just natter. He actually converses with you, cuz he's operated by a real person...makes you wonder why they couldn't just have a real person dressed up as a pirate...)

Casino's don't suck. They blow.

wild thing said...

Mmmmm, Sister Xena. Has a bit of a uncompatible ring to it. But not half as bad as Sister Wild Thing.

Casinos blow? Your brain out? I've never been in one. I had my suspicions. Larry, you outdescribed my expectations. Sounds like a nightmare to Sister Wild Thing. So maybe some people think if I haven't been in one, how could I have an opinion? Wellllllll, they are TAKING OVER!!! They replaced my beautiful, wild woods on the escarpment over the Falls with their enormous "suck-you-in" buildings. They even put fences around it, and Wild thing almost got arrested when she came up the hill, not expecting a fence and climbed over it. This big, scary man in immaculate uniform met her and roared: "How did you get in here?" And Wild thing, very demure whispered, "How do I get out of here?" Anhow, she used her most feminine alure, (against principal, but hey!) and melted the bully and he showed her the way out. She thanked him politely but in her heart she was screaming insults at him. As I said, they are taking over. Our beautiful in its heavy, noisy way, big train, our friend, was swallowed up by Casino land to be replaced by an offensive overhead mini rail, connecting all places of entertainment. And in a round about way, Loretto is also their prey. Do they suck, or do they suck???? I had a dream, (really) that the water of the Falls came alive and rose and rose and rose, and swallowed up the whole casino. And eventually trees started to grow again...

My son always cries, when the subject United States comes up, "Don't get me going!" Seems like I am that way with Casinos.

So Larry, you see, Sister Neddy visited casinos only on the outside and watched their destruction. And heard on the news and read in papers, how they lead people to despair of addiction, bankrupties, jail, etc. To Wild thing they are big monsters worse than Grendel. Even John Gardner couldn't turn it around and make you feel pity, seeing it from their point of view.

Sis said...

You did go on that cemetery tour, Sister Lulu, with Xena - that was a retreat of sorts.

And Sister Wild Thing - that was too funny - I laughed outloud at your name...

As for Brother Larry... I think he should arrange a roadtrip to the casino for WT and whoever else would like to explore the "dark" side... Larry, your description of casinos was perfect - esp. the senior gargoyles...

w.t. said...

So Xena, You would like to see me lured in the den of the lion. By Lion Larry. (Leo) You would like to see me enter the dark, and face the gargoyles. One, I am sure I already faced, that bully guard who couldn't understand why people climb a fence in spite of a sign, "Don't climb the fence." Duh! That was in the light. Enter the dark cave. Bats with gleeming green and red eyes, hanging from the cave ceilings and walls. Enter the dark. Claws reaching for you, grabbing at you. Hissing sounds. Hysterical laughter coming from the very depths of the catacomben. Sounds of water dripping, clammy clouds of vapour rising from underground river, displaying a pale skull with hollow eyes, the smell of rotting flesh. Thoughts of Gollum. Wasted Hobbit. Greed for gold, for power, tell me a riddle...

Oh, Little Lulu, You Lost lamb, treasure the green hills, treasure the beautiful, green land the Greek gods enter when they die. (can't recall the name) who needs golden streets and diamond
pavement, (or whatever,) Pearly Gates... Sounds like hell to me. You may not have entered the gates of Loretto, experienced the gentle presence of the Sisters, but you are our sister, you belong to the flock, if not in retreat, in spirit. Sister Wild Thing has spoken.

Brother Larry, or HWSNBK, Wild Thing can take a dare. LOL

Lulu said...

Hey, Sis Xena, I hadn't thought of it that way but yes, the cemetery tour was a retreat, and a very meaningful one. Speaking of father's graves I dreamed two nights ago that I was just realising that my father had died, and in the dream I cried and cried. Strange, out of the blue.

And Sister WT, thanks for what you said, I am proud to belong to the flock in spirit if not in retreat.

Xena said...

I am glad you cried in your dreams for your father. That is a good omen, a good dream. Nothing is ever out of the blue. It is all there...

Last night I dreamt I was on a sinking ship - that makes for an interesting metaphor! But a few nights earlier, I had this wonderful dream where I pulled a snake crawling up my back out from beneath my shirt or sweater. Now you need to know I'm not a fan of snakes, and a snake dream is a recurring nightmare for me where I run, or wake myself up in a panic. So this dream, where I acted instead of fleeing, amazed me when I remembered it upon waking.

w.t. said...

That'll be the end of those nightmares, Xena. You conquered the monster. Your ship will be floating again. You'll find the winds of faith to blow into your sails, and be on your way. Life is Good.

Mmmm, sortof happened in reverse, first the bravery, than the sinking. Effect before the cause. Oh well we know now that is possible... proven even scientifically.

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