You know a retreat has really begun when your cell phone loses service. In this case, mine lost service 30-minutes before reaching my final destination. After the panic of getting lost and not having service for two whole days wore off, I gave in; accepting that you have no phone or internet is the first step of reIaxing on a retreat, and the quicker the relaxing starts, the better.
I live alone and move through a lot of my days alone. You could call me an introvert, but mostly I really cherish my alone time. Regardless, there is a certain amount of okay you have to be with yourself in order to camp alone; there is a certain amount of okay you have to be with yourself to be willing to wake up alone every day for months (or years). Something about late nights and early mornings can bring out the loneliest feelings in people–those times tend to be when our thoughts chase us the most. It takes a little while to be able to confront those thoughts and not let them get the best of you. I’m not saying I am never lonely, but I find a lot of peace in waking up alone…in starting my day in silence without conversation and with the possibilities of a new day laid out before me. There is freedom in being alone, but sometimes it takes getting a little uncomfortable to find it.