Further confusing Grace, it was Trumpeter who twice tried to step the group down from his minute of turbulence. Maybe the imp had tapped his forehead, too. On the bridge—she drove ten miles per hour but there was no long delay—he told, in flat tones, the story of a Catskill Mountains meditation trip he had taken in early autumn after his first year at the academy. It was an alien tale of unintended smugness, with him as the Martian and with vacationers (from a taut ethnic community he had met in the town he camped beside) as Earthlings. Then, nearing the gravel road into Seeker, he spoke of “Retreat Week.” The old mummer Grace allowed him a cautious but much-needed cue by asking what this was. He described it as the one week each year that every workshop had an entirely spiritual theme. Well-known teachers of Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Western mysticism, and shamanism strolled the grounds. Most meals, with seven hundred people present, were taken in silence. This would all begin in five days.
Grace, who could catch but not hold his gaze in her mirror, saw that all her riders—Trumpeter and Willa behind her, Monk nearer the blasted windows in the seat behind them, and Moira Kathleen on her right—had fallen into private reflections. She turned her own mind back to the road and her thoughts. “I’ll see some of Retreat Week, then,” she said. “I have to go home next Tuesday.” She added, with more force than she had intended, “This is all pretty bewildering.”
They parked at the maintenance shed near the entrance. Trumpeter, obdurately, and Monk, who had obvious business together, waved their goodbyes as the women headed up the road. Turning in toward the main grounds of the campus at the café, Grace saw that it was the sweet period after breakfast, just before workshops began, when a dozen people lingered insistently in the garden with their coffees. To her relief, Moira Kathleen seemed to still feel the rise in confidence that the midnight crisis had engendered. Grace was glad to see that the ledge she had walked herself onto at the mall had not interfered: the woman seemed able to pick which of her moments she retained. What practice, Grace thought briefly, must lead up to this!
[To read the rest of Chapter 21 go to L.D. Gussin’s bookblog www.theseekeracademy.com.]