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 graced, 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 - "...to 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
about 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 Maloney, SJ wrote ...
"In prayer, the Spirit comes to our spirit and bears witness 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