And I did not hear the breeze, however much I listened, and my teacher told me to be humble, to listen to the promptings of my soul. He told me I must clear my life, I must renounce the preoccupations of the modern world and seek an older truth. I was forced to retreat.

I was to present myself before the Ultimate Being as a supplicant, willing, open, accepting.

I worked in a monastery garden for several months, eating with the monks and speaking only in connection with work and simple needs. I tended cabbages and turnips, fed marrows and leeks, and plucked the leaves of herbs with subtle and delicate flavours.

I felt the breeze on my back, and in my hair as I worked with my hoe or my spade, but it did not speak to me.

© 1999 Helen Whitehead