Monday, July 26, 2010

Reflections From the Hermitage

Last week I was away on my yearly, week long retreat! Ahh, what a very good and blessed week it was as I spent some solitude days in my own little hermitage in eastern Washington thanks to the gracious hospitality of the Carmelite Sisters of Mary. My great aunt was a Carmelite Sister so it was wonderful to connect a bit with the Carmelite charism and to celebrate their great Feast Day of Our Lady of Mt Carmel on July 16th. I think my aunt, Sr. Joseph, was watching over me from heaven and blessing my time during my retreat days ... I actually began retreat on a very appropriate Franciscan day, July 15th, the Feast of St. Bonaventure! The invocation for Morning Praise in my Franciscan prayer book that day was, "The Spirit of Wisdom is given to us in abundance. Let us rejoice in the goodness poured forth into our hearts and minds."
That message was confirmed over and over again for me while I was on retreat... so many gra
ced, wisdom moments! At one point I was listening to a CD on John's Gospel and some words the Dominican Sister, Sr. Mary Margaret Pazdan said caught my ears and really describes what retreat is about in so many ways - " nestle into the heart of God and say yes..." In the tradition of the Carmelite Sisters with whom I shared some time, I tried to allow the Holy Spirit to guide my days and my prayer. I had 80 acres of forested land to wander around in. The homily at Sunday's Mass included the thought that "All of creation is God's hospitality to us ... how do we receive it and take care of it?" In my roaming around each day - which I was able to do, and went for a good walk/hike every day - I found so much beauty and could really enter into the moment - that moment of God's abundant love and hospitality. I don't know about you, but I often tend to get caught up in things to do, worries and anxieties
bout things that need to be done, that I forget to be fully present to the preciousness of every moment. Retreat was a good reminder! ... And now I hope that I can carry the spirit of that time, "Hush now ... be still", with me into the days and months ahead! I hope that you can take a moment here and there in your day to "nestle into the heart of God".
In a little book written in the 1970s that I picked up in the hermitage - Jesus, Set Me Free: Inner Freedom Through Contemplation, Fr. George Malone
y, SJ wrote ...
"In prayer, the Spirit comes to our spirit and bears witne
ss that we are truly loved as the Father loves His eternal Son (Rm. 8:15). God's very own dynamic current of love, between Father and Son, catches us up and regenerates us into new creatures, ever more consciously aware of our inner dignity of being so privileged as to be loved infinitely by God." WOW! I thank God that I was able to have this retreat time. It was good for my heart, my soul and my mental state... and probably for the Sisters I live with too!
*A few more photos I took ... I was refreshed by the beauty that I encountered every day, and also want to share a picture of my hiking buddy, Strider :)
"Come forth into the light of things; let nature be your teacher."
~ William Wordsworth 1770-1850

Friday, July 9, 2010

FREE to Be ... You and Me...

I had great intentions to write on the 4th of July ~ at least I am still within the week ... What a wonderful day to celebrate though! We, as a people and a country have so much to be thankful for. I hope you were able to enjoy the holiday?
Personally, I had a
nice day! The weather was kind of overcast, but I went out for an energetic bike ride in the morning downtown on the waterfront along the Willamette River... always a pleasant ride for me. There were quite a few people and lots going on - it was just fun to mingle with the crowd on the holiday. Then later in the afternoon I enjoyed a delicious picnic type dinner with the Sisters I live with. I didn't go out to see any fireworks this year, but have surely enjoyed the ones nature has on display these summer days. ...*See the photos below that I've taken the past few weeks of God's daytime fireworks ...
Anyway, on my bike ride Sunday, I
rode past the the Blue's Festival event that was in full swing. People were flocking in to hear the music, but what was so great is that the proceeds were going to support the Oregon Food Bank! To go along with that happening, in the Portland "Oregonian" newspaper this morning, there is a good article on food and feeding the poor. I didn't have time to read the whole article yet, but I will! A non-profit organization called Portland Urban Gleaners was mentioned. Volunteers go around to grocery stores, restaurants, farmers markets, etc collecting GOOD food that can no longer be sold or served for profit. This food is then donated to places that can use the food to feed the hungry and serve meals to the homeless ...! What a wonderful concept! You know, as a society we waste so much food (in America, 150 lbs per person each year). How excellent that people have the freedom to be so resourceful like the Urban Gleaners to help others!!
Last night after community prayer ... to get a jump start on my weekend since I have family coming to town for a nieces wedding ... I was cleaning house. In our living/community
room we have a little calendar called "A Year of Daily Wisdom" by Marianne Williamson. I guess all the Sisters in my house, including myself, have been a little low on "wisdom" recently because the pages hadn't been turned since June 29th! So, I decided I better get the pages up to date and in doing so read each entry for the days we missed. I felt so wise when I went to bed last night :) Seriously though, I did like what Ms. Williamson wrote for July 4 ~ Independence Day... and since I wanted to write on the 4th, I share her quote with you now:
"Our freedom is not guaranteed by the Constitution; the only thing that guarantees freedom, ultimately, is our own commitment to it. That commitment must include our capacity to love each other as human beings, to remember we are brothers and sisters on this planet, and to surrender to God any thoughts we have to the contrary."
That sounds pretty Franciscan to me! It's all about relationship ... depending on our extravagant God who loves us deeply, reaching out in love to all our brothers and sisters, and striving daily to make our world a more beautiful, just and peaceful place!
May you be blessed in this next week. I am heading off for my annual week of retreat next week (July14-22) and am so looking forward to having more time for personal prayer and realigning my heart and spirit...