Now let us return to our beautiful and delightful castle and see how we can enter it. I seem rather to be talking nonsense, for, if this castle is the soul, there can clearly be no question of our entering it. For we ourselves are the castle: and it would be absurd to tell someone to enter a room when he was in it already! But you must understand that there are many ways of “being” in a place. . . . You will have read certain books on prayer that advise the soul to enter within itself: and that is exactly what this means. (Teresa of Avila: First Mansion, Chapter 1)
When our children were small we took an extended weekend trip up Minnesota Highway 61 from Winona to Red Wing along the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin. We stayed at the Historic Anderson House Hotel in Wabasha. Our room came with a cat. Not just any cat, but one that would stay up all night and meow for us. We hiked Frontenac State Park and found an old limestone quarry. Frontenac limestone was shipped to New York City in the 1890s and used in building the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. We saw Point-No-Point: boats coming down the Mississippi would veer away from the point jutting out into the water and then the point vanished–I actually saw the point that doesn’t exist. We explored area architecture and history including Architectural Corner in Red Wing and the tiny community of Frontenac where Israel Garrard built his beautiful St. Hubert’s Hunting Lodge back in 1856.
I worked with Phil but didn’t know him well. We talked one day and after the obligatory conversation about the weather we finally got around to an important question, “So where you from?” I found out Phil was from “all over” but most recently spent five years in Frontenac. Of course, I rattled off highlights from our recent trip and especially how much I enjoyed Old Frontenac. His bewildered look soon gave birth to words: “I had no idea any of that was there.”
Teresa says, “you must understand that there are many ways of ‘being’ in a place”. Phil lived in Frontenac for five years. He drove the streets, walked the sidewalks, and talked to the neighbors but was never really there. This also happens spiritually. We stay at the outer edge of the castle distracted and controlled by the world around us “and have no idea what there is in that wonderful place (our souls), or who dwells in it, or even how many rooms it has.” Teresa encourages us to enter within ourselves through prayer and meditation and explore the castle. Remember, there are many ways of being in a place.
* Highway 61 Revisited comes from the title of a Bob Dylan album.