A friend once told me about the "home" he and his father had as refugees in Europe during World War II. He, his mother, and his younger brother moved constantly from place to place. . . . Each time they arrived in a new place, his mother would open the small suitcase that held all their belongings and bring out the lace tablecloth she had used for their Friday night meals in Poland, before they were forced to leave and begin their flight. In each place the ritual was exactly the same. She would place the suitcase on a table, carefully drape the tablecloth over the suitcase, light a candle, and in that moment, wherever it was became home. This ritual was their prayer.
The three months of solitude were of the greatest significance for me. I came away from them very much strengthened — ready to share my insights with people who were interested in hearing them. Still today, I have the sounds of the jungle in my ears: the cries of the monkeys and birds and the wind rushing through the banana leaves. But there were also times of utter silence, at dawn and twilight. I took walks in the jungle in order to look at nature as a part of myself.