Got Silence?

The first time I went on a silent retreat was ten years ago.

On retreat in 2007. Age 40.


It was over the weekend of my 40th birthday. When I told my then husband that I wanted to spend $300 to go away for four days of writing and silence and leave him with our children –  who were two and six at the time – I swear I could see the steam coming out of his nostrils.


What kind of person wants to spend their birthday without their family? he asked me. What am I supposed to tell the kids? 

I thought it was easy, tell them: We are giving mommy a really great birthday present and we will celebrate her birthday when she gets home! 

In any event, I had to fight for my right to go, well, write, and experience a silent retreat.

It was totally worth it.

It was a writing retreat led by my writing group instructor. We met at a monastery perched on the side of a mountain along the Big Sur coastline. While we did speak – a little – while we were in our meetings, the rest of the time was spent in silence.


The view from my room. 


It was an incredible experience. Not only the practice of silence, which I fell in love with, but also the location, the company, the practice, and the freedom.

I have gone several times in the ten years since. Most often I go on the retreat, as it is around my birthday each year. There have been years I have missed, and I have also gone on personal retreats there on my own. Writers such as Pico Iyer and Denise Levertov have also spent time at the monastary.

It had been a few years since I had been – Highway 1 was closed last year and the monastery was inaccessible for many months while the roaday was cleared and the iconic Bixby Bridge was repaired.

It was, as always, a weekend filled with contemplation, reflection, meditation, and communing with myself and nature.


I look forward to sharing with you some of what I wrote over that weekend.

All the best,

Jessica, at 50.


Meditation on retreat, 2017. Age: a week away from 50. 


2 thoughts on “Got Silence?

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