Walking Journal / Walking

Walk 29 – Holy Hills Hermitage

. 3 min read . Written by Russell Smith
Walk 29 – Holy Hills Hermitage

The day was enough. I was enough

Over the summer, I shared with a few friends that I hoped to take a silent retreat in the coming year – or even only a few hours away for silent reflection and writing. The following week, my friend Charles and I were going to see Love’s Labor’s Lost at Shakespeare in the Park. The weather called for possible rain so he headed back into his house to get an umbrella. He came out and handed me a brochure: Holy Hills Hermitage. “A friend helps run this place,” Charles said, “and you mentioned wanting to take a retreat.” 

Was the universe giving me a sign or what?!

With the girls back in school, my schedule didn’t allow for an overnight stay. But I arranged to spend a few hours here on an upcoming Friday. Today is the day! I headed to the Hermitage early and arrived at 9am. 

Charles’s friend Joe Grant welcomed me and gave me a short tour of the Hermitage. Minutes into my time at the Hermitage, I felt at home. 

 I then made and drank my usual cup of tea. Normally, I drink my morning tea while writing, either in my journal or essays for Solvitur Ambulando. Today, I simply made the tea, sat and drank the tea. How often do we have a chance to truly do one thing at a time? We’re always multi-tasking, even when we believe we are not. While we drive, we listen to a podcast. While exercising, we’re watching the news. While helping one kid with homework, we’re assisting the other child with a creative project. 

It felt…nice…to simply do one action, and to enjoy it. 

I headed out for a walk amongst the Hermitage's 10 acres, trusty walking stick in hand. The birds called out loud, in the fullness of ripe summer, not yet softening into decaying autumn. I heard Blue Jays (I can recognize the call now!), Hairy Woodpecker, American Crow (I can also recognize its voice!), Eastern Phoebe, American Goldfinch, Tufted Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Robin, Carolina Chickadee and American Kestrel. I headed into the woods and sat on a wooden bench near the property line. I remained a long time, being. 

I walked out and came to the memorial tree garden. The black plaques with names and dates and maybe a phrase etched on them befitted this thoughtful nook in the woods. What a lovely way to be remembered – simple, in nature, adding life to the ebb of life and passing.

At the end of my time at the Hermitage, Joe and I talked for about an hour. It also felt like a Spiritual Companionship Walk. It was lovely.

A couple years ago, my wonderful wife gave me a card. The front proclaimed, in big letters, “You Are Enough.” Most of my life, I have revolted from that statement. I have usually felt – deeply and to the core of my soul – that I am not enough; I haven’t done enough; I haven’t done anything; I haven’t achieved anything; I haven’t reached my potential; I have done anything worthy of note on this earth; I'm an imposter; I'm a faker; I'm a loser.

Today, I felt different. The Hermitage was enough. The day was enough. I was enough.