Sunday, March 27, 2016

When Absence Is Necessary


We don’t live in calm times and are relentlessly bombarded 24/7 with advertisements telling us to buy stuff we don’t need, with news reports of the latest buffoonery offered by our political circus and reports of the latest barbaric savagery committed in the name of GOD. Top that with the uncertainty of our jobs and health and you can understand a person wanting to hide in a cave.
A few days ago, a good friend Jessica A. Walsh posted a blog titled “What Happened When My Power Went Away” Jessica is not only part of the best writers’ group ever, The South Jersey Writers’ Group, but this year, she became our Vice President. Jessica is a beautiful and sensitive person, but in this world, it can be rather overwhelming when something unsettling happens to you especially if you are a gentle soul. In her blog post, Jessica explains how an event affected her on three different planes: mentally, financially and physically.
I’m much older than Jessica and I’ve been in her exact dilemma many times, but age has a way of allowing you to let go of the guilt when you are forced to become absent from the world.  


Definition from the Oxford Dictionary: The state of being away from a place or person; an occasion or period of being away from a place or person; absence of mind Failure to concentrate on or remember what one is doing; avoidance; hiatus; truancy.
Jessica was apologizing for her disappearance. There was no need for an apology because what Jessica’s mind and body had demanded from her was a good old fashion retreat. Time out is important for survival, especially, in this world of ours where it’s fashionable to hate and to incite.


Definition from the Cambridge Dictionary: To go away from a place or person in order to escape from fighting or danger; to go to a quiet place in order to avoid a difficult situation.

Benefits of Absence or Retreats

When I was a young girl at St. Maria Goretti High School in South Philadelphia, the nuns would take us on a Spiritual Retreat for the entire day at one of their Mother Houses in the countryside. We were teenagers who felt that a day spent in quiet contemplation sounded more like a prison sentence than a learning experience, but we were wrong. The time spent in silence gave us renewed strength.
Later in life, I learned the benefits to a time out. I haven’t been on a spiritual retreat since high school, but I have set up a room inside my house as my little cave; a place to hide. Retreats and meditation reduce stress, allow your mind to breathe, renew energy and give you a chance to heal both mentally and physically. Like Jessica, I may hide in my little cave for days when I’m really feeling crushed by the weight of the world. I light incense, I play Hindu music, I don’t write, text, tweet or talk to anyone. My husband understands that because of my compromised immune system it is beneficial and better than any antibiotic to just let me go into cocoon mode whenever I need it.


I wanted Jessica to know that it’s okay to disappear. Even GOD disappeared in the desert for forty days and, he didn’t have to put up with Trump and Cruz, but HE knew what was coming down the road and he had to prepare for the journey to Calvary.

In this age of instantaneous non-stop news, we need to take time to become absent from the world for small periods of time. Many of us can’t afford to miss work, because we have bills to pay, but we can designate a specific place in our home that is off limits to phones, television, computers and stress and just an hour in this room will start the mending. Disconnect form your cell phones and television for one night and feel the difference.

My message to Jessica is this: don't feel guilty when you go into cocoon mode, instead, enjoy the benefits and emerge a better you. I’ll be in the cocoon next to you.



  1. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Marie. I've gotten so much better at taking the time outs but not at surrendering the guilt. I call it "turtling" but I like "cocoon" better. I think it has a better, more gentle connotation, one of safety. Thank you, my friend.

    1. We seem to be traveling down the same road to enlightenment and I am happy to have you as a fellow traveler

    2. As am I. :-) I am excited (and nervous) to be going on a 2.5 day SILENT retreat in April. That will certainly be very interesting. Stay tuned... xoxo

    3. You'll do fine and will come back renewed

  2. Everyone needs downtime. The problem is finding it. Great post, Marie! And bravo to your husband to understand your occasional need for solitude. ...If only my family of 7 understood this...

    1. Thank you Victoria. It is hard, but to stay healthy I do fight for my down time. You'll have to come over to my house and hide out