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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Soulful Destination

Posted May 15, 2006

It was a challenge for a guy who runs his mouth for a living. I attended a silent retreat at Avila north of Durham off US 15-501. Avila is a retreat center billed as a "A Place for Hospitality, Healing, Ecumenical Unity." A dozen or so of us from Cary Presbyterian Church began with a nice dinner Friday evening and with the exception of a few brief readings we all zipped our lips for the next 24 hours. I used to do this on a more regular basis back before the kids, the music commitments and just the general treadmill of life. My first silent retreat was a 48 hour stint at Camp Agape by the Cape Fear River 22 years ago. Bud Wilkinson, a white haired and charismatic potter, led this session. The bottom line is this: it's important to carve out regular chunks of time to be still and silent, to shut down the ego and listen for the inner voice. You don't have to be particularly religious to do this. The nice thing about Avila is that it is near the city and yet seems out in the country. Avila is nestled among 51 acres of rolling countryside, offering a unique retreat environment. Sisters Damian Marie Jackson and Carol Ann May are two of the warmest and most accomodating hosts you will ever encounter. Saturday afternoon I spent more than two hours in a hammock without a pinch of guilt. Earlier in the day I hiked the beautiful Avila trail and watched my worries dissolve on the Avila labyrinth. Avila will help you gain new insights into life and living. It is a time to reflect on your present and future journey with God, others and with yourself. For more information:

http://www.dioceseofraleigh.org/where/centers/avila/
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