The Anchorite


Anchorite (female: anchoress; adj. anchoritic; from Ancient Greek: ἀναχωρέω, anachōreō, signifying “to withdraw”, “to depart into the rural countryside”) denotes someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and—circumstances permitting—Eucharist-focused life. As a result, anchorites are usually considered to be a type of religious hermit,[1] although there are distinctions in their historical development and theology.

I knew the tree house long before I choose to withdraw from the world.
It was a landmark , once I saw it, I knew I was nearly home,
Safe.
Sound.

My withdrawal from the world began slowly, as such withdrawals do.
An unwillingness to meet friends for drinks, lunches. Birthday invitations ignored, phones left unanswered, ignored e-mails piling up in some virtual space.

The withdrawal speeded up, I no longer went to work, answered the door, left the cluttered city flat.

I hungered for isolation, silence, a world conducted internally and then one night I dreamt of the tree house and woke refreshed, replete and knew what I must do.

Living here is simple, quiet, still.

The house moves in high winds, leaks in heavy rains and is suffocatingly hot in the summer. Its’ structure makes ignoring nature impossible and besides, the viewing platform invites careful regard for everything around me.
I watch the world and recently the world has begun to watch me.

Little notes left at the foot of my step ladder, baskets of food, strange crazy things, soft toys, rosary beads, dried flowers.

Sometimes these gifts come at night and I never know who has left them, but sometimes I watch as they, potential penitents, pilgrims, park their cars, walk down the dust road to the foot of the tree, look up at the tree house and leave something.

I have learnt not to read the notes,their neediness, hunger, desires, pierce my armor plated calm, force me back into their world, into the everyday.

And then there are those, mostly women, who come and sit, stare up at the tree, the tree house, me, at first they were few and far between, these silent visitors, but recently, they come more often, stay for longer, are better prepared, folding chairs, sandwiches, books to read and there are more and more of them.

I feel them massing, gathering, waiting for someone, something to happen.

I check the bottled water, the dried fruit, the remainder of the tinned food and wonder how long they will last, how long it will take the silent women to notice that I no longer appear at the window, move around the tiny room, lean over the balcony.

I wonder if I should ask them what they want?

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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