I came up here fighting my own emotions all the way. Sadness, anxiety, even fear were all roiling around inside me as I faced the prospect of my annual retreat. Why all this turmoil over a trip to one of the most beautiful and serene places I know? Good question.
Every year, I plan a week-long spiritual retreat in June to mark the end of the busy time of parish work as the Church turns to Ordinary Time and parish life slows down: a time to reflect on the previous year’s work so I can start to plan for next year; a time to reflect on my personal life; a time to spend more time in intentional prayer; a time to focus more on the spiritual than on the mundane. So again, I ask myself, why all this turmoil?
I checked in here at the Conference Center of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake on Sunday night.
No phones, no television or radio … but of course, in this age of technology I carry all of that around in my hand 🙂 And, since I’m blogging you can tell I’m not completely cut off from the world. I’ll keep writing throughout my stay. Yesterday was Day One and by the time I’d had a good night’s rest and a good breakfast, I felt better about being here and ready to take a look at all the turmoil going on inside.
I brought lots of reading materials with me and in one folder of favorite reflections and prayers I found this piece written by Anthony De Mello, SJ.
Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know, all mystics – Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion – are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure.
But tragically most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare. For the most part, people just want relief from the nightmare. That’s all. Even the best psychologist will tell you that – people don’t really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful. Overall, it is nice and comfortable in bed, it is irritating to be woken up. Waking up is unpleasant.
Spirituality means waking up.
I work for the Catholic Church and even though my full-time job is in ministry, I think I have let myself fall asleep to some degree in my life. I think all the turmoil is me fighting to stay asleep … waking up really is unpleasant … and yet way down deep in the core of me I know that all is well, all is well; God has it covered. He’s just waiting for me to wipe the sleep out of my eyes and see, really see, all the wonders of the world on a grand scale and to see, really see, all the wonders, all the work that is to be done, and all the gifts and talents he’s giving me to participate in His mission in my own little corner of the world.
So, I’ll keep writing. Some of my writing I’ll share here and some will be kept between me and God, handwritten in my journal.