Every year for the past thirty years, I have gone on a week’s retreat. In between retreats, I see a spiritual director once a month. These two practices help shape my faith and are fundamental to my spiritual life.
In keeping with my Lenten practice of praying for the people who have been lights in my life, I am focusing today on those connected with my retreats. The list of their names filled a whole page in my journal.
Each of the people who has directed me, as well as the scriptures I have prayed with on retreat, is connected to a memory of a God moment.
I remember on one retreat spending a day praying with Deuteronomy 32, “May my instruction soak in like the rain and my discourse permeate like the dew…” and the next morning walking across the dew-covered grass at the Jesuit Center at Wernersville. The grass was spongy. “Be a sponge,” I told myself, “and soak up God’s word.”
And another retreat when I spent one whole day praying with the passage, “As the father has loved me” and the next day praying with “so I have loved you.” It amazed me that God could engage me for two days with eleven words. Both of those retreats were directed by a wise woman named Katherine.
For many years, my retreats focused on my writing and sharing my spiritual experiences, an invitation I resisted with my whole being.
And then a few years ago, I decided to stop resisting the invitation and go on a writer’s retreat. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but I knew I was ready to move beyond my resistance to sharing my faith journey.
I searched “writing retreats” and came up with a long list of what I would call “writing workshops.” I wasn’t looking for someone to guide my writing but rather someone to guide my prayer about my writing.
Eventually I found a priest who had written a book about spiritual writing, and he agreed to spend a week directing my prayer about my writing. He lived in a monastery in the desert which had four hermitages. It was a Moses experience for me (one I have yet to write about) and an incredible blessing. I pray for him and the other priests of that monastery today.
After Jim died, I wanted to go someplace new for retreat, so I contacted an Irish sister I had met at a workshop at Wernersville. She was directing a retreat on the Irish Sea coast north of Dublin that summer, and I went (the sun rise photo above was taken from my room). It was a gift of grieving and healing.
I have been so blessed with many spiritual people who have helped light my path, and I carry them all in prayer today.