I love the idea of retreat, don’t you? Particularly at times like these when I’ve got a deadline looming and book tour coming up. Writing is such a solitary occupation that being thrust out of that is occasionally a daunting thing. Sometimes the carousel of activity whirls a bit too fast for me and I long to jump off. And that’s when I start looking up convents online. I’ve always liked the idea of nuns, dating to when I saw an episode of “The Bionic Woman” where Jaime went undercover at a convent and wore a habit. (I LOVED the habit. The flowing, austere black and white–no wonder Coco Chanel claimed to have been forever shaped as a designer by her early years in an orphanage. Probably not true, but a good story, no?)
Anyway, that episode set me on a career path until my mother sat me down and explained that if I became a nun I couldn’t wear makeup, couldn’t have any boyfriend besides God, and that–perhaps more to the point–we weren’t Catholic. So I gave up my dream of taking the veil, which let’s be honest, was really just about the VEIL itself.(Why did those go out of fashion? Veils are CHIC.) But even though I turned my ambitions elsewhere, I still remembered the cool silence, the long polished hallways, the lack of chatter at meals, and decided that convents would still be an excellent place to go and enjoy a bit of repose.
I keep imagining a peaceful place with a quiet room, a stack of books, and no interruptions, perhaps with a bit of plainsong in the background. Of course, this is a hopelessly outdated and naive picture of convent life. I have since toured the convent where the nuns at my daughter’s school live and it’s nothing at ALL like I pictured. There are no floor-sweeping black habits or herb knot gardens or vows of silence, and it occurs to me that I might like a pedicure or massage during my retreat so a spa is really the best place for me. I wonder if I could find one that enforces silence and pipes in a nice bit of medieval chant?
(This entry is a slightly tweaked version of an entry that posted in 2009. I’m in the VERY LAST STAGES of writing Veronica Speedwell #2 as well as prepping for the release of A CURIOUS BEGINNING and getting ready for the book tour, so revamped bloggery will have to suffice for now!)