"I have just finished doing this one-hundred-day retreat myself while living in my home monastery. During winter months, the first thirty days of above-the-river agenda (code for 'external life') got my attention, and I arranged my appointment and travel schedule so that I had the time, energy, and space to do all those little things that wait year after year for some lucky spurt of energy. I ordered my cell, clothes, music, archives, books, and things. I got my medical requirements from the deferred list to the done list. I made phone calls and completed a few writing projects that were pending. I restarted an exercise program and slept enough that fatigue lost its grip. I restarted getting to church and meals on time. I did extra duties around the monastery to be of service to those busier than I am. I found that I had plenty time for my sustained lectio — which was doing a continuous reading of the Bible.

"The second thirty days, I listened to my afflictions. I saw that my speech was depreciative and needed stricter control from my heart. The tongue is so quick, and in our culture we talk so much! I craved more silence, but it was more to do with self-management than to pray and be a contemplative. I also observed that past afflictions with anger had diminished and no longer was my mind hooked on past hurts, worrisome cultural traps, or obsessive propensity to overwork.

"The third thirty days were done right here in my cell. There was no way to get away someplace else. I had to learn solitude in my cell. The training in my cell was rigorous from the inside, and from the outside my whole retreat was invisible. While I had arranged a steady communication with a wise elder, I did not share. In not sharing and not being vigilant about ten of those days, I slipped back into ordinary time. Perhaps it is asking too much to stay in place, or could a stronger accountability arrangement with my wise elder have been enough to hold me to my resolve? Anyway, maybe next year during Lent I'll try to do these inner thirty days again, either in another place or with stricter accountability.

"The last ten days is to return to a 'new normal' discerning way of life. This part was wonderfully healing. I recommend this St. Enda retreat. I am sure it will be different for each monastic, but for me it was wonderful.

"There are other ways to find the same place where God is dwelling in an abiding way. To serve others with wholeheartedness is both helpful to someone else and to the one who is transformed by doing the selfless service. Service won't purify the soul unless the ego steps aside and the Holy Spirit reigns."