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August will take care of August

This phrase was said to me nearly 20 years ago during a silent retreat in Black Canyon City, Arizona at Our Lady of Solitude, an incredible retreat center run by Sister Therese Sedlock. Sr. Therese died a few years ago, and I don’t know what happened to the center, but when I was there, I stayed in a hermitage, a small one bedroom hut with a kitchen, small living area and a porch, in the desert. It was surrounded by miles and miles of rolling hills with cacti, burrobrush, wildflowers, tumbleweed and red ochre rocks.

I was ending my time as a Jesuit Volunteer, and still had no idea what August would bring. My anxiety was on overdrive, all I could think about was August. (It was June.) What was I going to do in August. Sr. Therese said to me, “Melanie, August will take care of August.” End of conversation.  I was there in the desert, I need to be in the desert, to wander the hills and draw and paint and pray. I was not there to worry about August.

The bulletin board above my bench in my studio.

 

So I wandered in the desert. I wrote in my journal, I baked my body on the warm rocks, I drew. I tried not to think about August. And she was not interested in hearing about August. She wanted to know in our singular daily 20 minute conversation what I was doing right now. And then she would give me a reading to contemplate and send me back into the desert. By facing the reality of the desert–the extreme weather, the lack of trails, the animals I might encounter, on top of the likelihood of losing one’s way–I was better prepared to face the desert within.

And she was right, August took care of August. I saw a job posting for a job in San Francisco a week before I was going to SF for a visit. I applied for the job, interviewed while I was there, and got the job the week after I returned. Everything was fine. And this mantra has fueled me through the past twenty years.

I remind myself of this story daily. Sometimes I share it with a friend or a student, and I look at the words on my studio wall a few times a day. August will take care of August, do what you have to to prepare, but then let it be and focus on today, wherever you are.

August will take care of August.

August will take care of August.

August will take care of August.

 

 

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