Bringing the retreat home: one way to do this is to take time to sit. The early morning light was so beautiful that I had to draw up a chair, and sit, and watch. I thought of the first poem I ever memorised at school:

What is this life if, full of care,
We take no time to stand and stare. . .

By sitting still I could enjoy the sculptural forms of the agave leaves, the twisting uplift of the cypress—

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

— and beyond it all, the flare of the flame tree, so bright against the dark foliage of the pohutukawa trees. Beyond it all, the sea is beckoning.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

When I take time to sit very still, with no expectations, something surprising often happens. On this day I felt a strong urge to clear my desk: beauty outside, beauty inside.
Aaah! Breathing space. After all, I’m dismantling the old busyness and creating space for something new to emerge. Now when I sit at my desk, I smile. Only those papers that I’m about to deal with are allowed on here now.

And when the evening light draped its golden caress over the garden, I drew up my chair again, and sat and watched. The jade plant turned to fire and called out to the flame tree beyond. As I listened in, I heard their secret song: ‘We are glowing, we are happy, life is full of wonder.’ And so it is.

A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
(Leisure, by William Henry Davies)