I did manage to get out and take quite a few photos during my stay at the ermitage, despite feeling a bit under the weather (much better now, thanks). I'd like to do a couple of posts to share with you my experience of doing a silent retreat.

First off, the place itself. L'Ermitage de Warden is situated in a very beautiful area in Québec called Les Cantons de l'Est (the Eastern Townships). It's about an hour's drive from downtown Montréal. A retired couple turned their 19-acre country property into a getaway for harried city-dwellers and peace-seekers.

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Their land has six very cozy and clean cabins, each outfitted with a woodstove, a single bed, a rocking chair and a small table.


There is no electricity or running water in the cabins. Meals and washrooms are accessible in a common building. The owners prepare lovely, mostly vegetarian food which is available on a self-serve basis in the common kitchen.

The property is crisscrossed with beautiful paths through mixed forest, open clearings, ponds and along the Yamaska river.

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Benches, swings and hammocks dot the landscape, allowing retreaters to sit and take in the sights, sounds, smells.

Because I wasn't feeling 100%, I spend a lot of time in my little cabin, which was a really healing place. I brought a few comforts from home to make my space more cozy.

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From a window I could spy on the sweet birds that came to snack at my bird-feeder.

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White-breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis

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Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sitta canadensis

Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus

My refuge was the perfect place to stop "doing" and just reeeeest. I let myself get hypnotized by the dancing light of my constant companions—the fire in my woodstove, and the flames of my candles.


I didn't have any major revelations or insights, but I did notice a few interesting things:
- It's very sweet to do nothing once in a while, especially if you crave solitude like I do.
- I loved spending the great majority of 3 days in complete silence. I went with a friend, and we did have some difficulty not speaking when we ran into each other. I must admit we exchanges a few brief, hushed exchanges, but generally just smiled at each other. We are social creatures at heart.
- I very quickly fell into my hardwired circadian rhythm: wake when it's light, sleep when it's dark, eat when I'm hungry.
- That said, I was always extremely curious about what time it was, and had to resist the temptation to look at the time on my tucked-away cell phone.
- Not doing made the days pass by more slowly, in a good way. I could really savour my time off, and was rarely bored.
- Being in complete silence, I could really hear the noisiness of my mind. I noticed that I constantly have music playing in my head. It sometimes got on my nerves, especially if I had the same "record" on for too long. Right now I have Karkwa playing in my head. It's always there, but I never realized it before.
- I loved living more simply. It made me re-evalutate all the stuff I have, buy, do... These things fill up my life in ways that can sometimes be overwhelming. Obviously, living such an idyllic, quiet, and ultimately lazy existence is not doable or even desirable in my real life, but I can make more space, clear the way for more peace and quiet.

Next time, I want to show you some of the woodland treasures I caught with my camera.

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Hope you find a little peace and quiet in your day today.