“People seek retreats for themselves in the country, by the sea, or in the mountains. You are very much in the habit of yearning for those same things. But this is entirely the trait of a base person, when you can, at any moment, find such a retreat in yourself. For nowhere can you find a more peaceful and less busy retreat than in your own soul – especially if on close inspection it is filled with ease, which I say is nothing more than being well-ordered. Treat yourself often to this retreat and be renewed.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

 

Day 2 of our 14-day isolation at the start of the very-first lockdown in the UK (March 2020): one of my children had a high temperature and a cough. Finding personal space for 5 of us in a terraced house with small garden was relatively easy. The sunny weather helped, but even so, it is possible to find calm in even the smallest space; if only we slow down and then stop to consider what is – here and now – and then let go of worrying about what might be in the future or dwelling on what once was in the past.

 

Only by regularly attending to the values we hold and the thoughts we have can we keep our own personal and permanent retreat – our soul – in good order. I am grateful we have a small garden.

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